Shaun Levin

Meandering Thoughts

In Writing on September 17, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Many notebooks filled and forgotten, held onto, rarely revisited. What of those filled and unfulfilled notebook? Now, starting a new notebook with a new type of pen, one with memories of early school days. Throughout the 70s we wrote with fountain pens, maybe not dipped in ink, but definitely with cartridges, blue, and I see now that perhaps cursive is a result of writing with a quill or fountain pen. It’s easier to write in cursive, to keep the pen on the page, the nib wants to cling to the page.

It’s time to return to those filled notebooks, more than 20 years of notebooks, maybe chronologically from when I began to keep them in earnest, London in the mid-90s, or maybe a more random approach, a notebook from here and there. Working backwards from now doesn’t appeal. I like the idea of going back to the start of my life as a writer, and by writer I mean someone who writes all the time, someone with something to show for the daily showing up to the page.

The pen flows easier with each line, the grip on it… but I’m still not sure if it’s a friendly writing tool, conducive to coherent writing, the fountain pen wants to slide, wants letters to merge, to keep going and going, to write words like antidisestablishmentarianism, a word Jill and I read in the dictionary back in the late 1970s and me being surprised she could work out its meaning by taking it apart. Books and words and reading were important in my family, although formal education was not highly regarded. The educated uncles were not considered successful, as if there was something lacking in people with a vast education, not something to look up to, slightly shameful, something that disprepared you for life. Looking good was important, being lean was important, going to the beach was important, working hard and making money was important. High school was all you needed + a way to make money by selling stuff. In that sense, I’ve lived much of my life with a sense of failure, that what I have accomplished has not given me the capital to live an independent and unrestricted life, and I have become one of the lamentable uncles, those with talent and learning, but lacking in the tools to make it in the world. Like anything we claim about ourselves, this isn’t entirely and always true, but it is on certain days and in a certain light.

Have occasional diary entries: Early Utterances from a Writing Life, I, II, III, IV, X, XI. Like this:

Saturday, 11 March 2006: Not sure how I feel about this notebook. Too shiny, too white – maybe I just have to get used to it. Must set up more workshops, contact festivals. Add reviews to the website. Snow and blizzards expected in the North tonight. Slobodan Milosevic died in his cell today.

Monday, 13 March 2006: “I knew it would,” you said, and you ate some more.

He kept throwing his head back and making the kind of noise you make when you’re not sure if this is pleasurable or painful, but you know you don’t want it to stop.

“You’re delicious,” you said.

Because you thought it might be sour, tinny. You feared your lover would taste of rust. You’d tasted your own blood once, and it was like licking a tin can, something cold, like steel, as if that’s what you were made of.

By the end of the night there was a pixie hat of green left on the pillow, so you picked it up by the stem – almost weightless – and placed it by the bedside, tiny drops of pink water, very far from blood red, trickled onto the white surface and sat there like echoes of a lake.


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