Last October the Redhead and I moved to the country.
Our homestead is a half-day’s hike on the double-time from Horseshoe Bend, a little spot on the Tallapoosa River where Andrew Jackson defeated the Creek Indian Nation and acquired twenty-three million acres in the process. Done a mere two years after he “caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.”
Old Sharp Knife went on to be the seventh President of the United States. The remaining Creeks went to Florida. I suppose neither felt they had been punished enough.
No wars on our plot. Just an occasional skirmish between English and Irish. Settled with words. No muskets to date, but one never knows.
The nearest town is Jacksons Gap. I know, there should be an apostrophe, but there isn’t. Public schools in Alabama wasn’t to dadgum gud back in dem days. Theys a hole lot better now.
The population in my zip code is listed at 808, but I have my doubts. We have no traffic light, no store. We have a church, small city hall and a volunteer fire department. None do much business.
My nearest neighbors are just up the road a quarter-mile or so. Both in their eighties, so we never call the High sheriff about the noise.
I sit on the porch at night in true darkness. See the stars for the first time in years.
I hear the call of a Whip-poor-will. Ol’ Hank thought they were lonesome and had lost the will to live. Mine always gets an answer from somewhere down the hollow, so I reckon he’s okay.
Sometimes late at night I think I hear the war cries of the Creek off in the distance.
Probably just lonesome coyotes.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
Hemingway wrote that. I know this because I read almost every word he published. Most of them twice. I sipped each sentence. Drained the bottle. Held it upraised for that one last drop clinging to the rim, suspended in time until gravity provided sweet release.
Papa’s sentences were sparse. No wasted words. Pure prose poetry.
No coincidence that the template I picked for this blog is named “Hemingway.” No bells and whistles. Black ink on virtual white paper, hence the title.
Sometimes nice people ask me when I will write something here again. Flattering words. All kinds of things vie for attention these days, and I am sincerely honored that someone would make time to read a few paragraphs of my construction.
One reason for long dry spells is quite simple. Writing is hard work for me. A curious mix of God-given talent and practice. It must be daily. Most of the effort ends in a garbage can. Gluteus maximus planted firmly in chair, cursor blinking on white emptiness. Thoughts transferred from brain to keystroke on a beat-up old laptop computer with the “caps lock” key missing.
Sometimes the words come easy, but more often must be mined from solid granite with pick and shovel. Mostly gravel in the pile. Occasionally a nugget worth polishing and keeping.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
Hemingway also wrote that gem. How to begin anew.
In this quiet moment I choose to take his advice. Perhaps the simplicity of it will cling like flesh on dry bones.
“I just wrote something.”