Better to receive praise from a single master than a thousand amateurs.
For me, this is true in most things I say and do and without exception write.
I’m still a-glowing from a comment, unadorned and direct when spoken and yet powerful and stirring when received.
Each Wednesday evening about a baker’s dozen of us gather at a cafe — one of Denver’s coolest I might add — to write. A prompt’s given by the “leader”/facilitator, then we write wherever it takes us for 45 minutes.
Then each reads aloud if s/he wishes. No obligation. To date, each writer has read, which is amongst the assorted blessings of this group! Not only is each person skillful (can’t express how refreshing that is! — widespread illiteracy and dumbing-down is exhausting!!) but each voice is distinct, each style unique, each delivery riveting.
The applause that follows each reading comes naturally; only on one occasion there was none and that happened to be after mine. The room sat stunned, silenced by the trauma shared in the story.
Silence speaks volumes. To evoke and provoke speechlessness – the gift of art. It reveals that others have been reached, they have been touched, they have listened, they have heard.
Anyhow, after our last gathering, four of us stragglers (and emerging core of the group, I predict) hung around talking, tossing out ideas, exploring possibilities for the group’s direction and such.
And one fellow, Ari, directed a comment to me to the effect of: “Dialogue … “I’d love to see you do dialogue! Noir. I totally see that in you.”
I had to peel myself up off the wood floor! It’s a well-concealed secret that I love noir! Love love love it! Love to read it! Watch it. Feel it. Be in the beat. The vibration. The cadence. The darkness. The reality. The humor.
Feel the pulse!
Life is hard and then you die. If one can write noir between arrival and departure, one stands a shot at survival and shred of happiness inside mankind’s bleakness.
Is how it is. Here’s the thing though. I’m saddled with the most common of afflictions amongst writers, a laundry list so lengthy that I’d cry at its conventionality were the mocking laughter to cease! A list that inclues procrastination, being one’s own worst critic, no one cares what I say, no one’s interested, self-directed putdowns, deeply-held convictions that I’ll never amount to anything, I’ll never be good, I can never be as good as (insert favorite authors), crap writing dominates the market and the public digs it (Kendra Wilkinson making millions off her slutty autobiographies — really?!? — and in the meantime truly GOOD writers go unnoticed and broke and where’s the justice?!) so why bother.
There’s more but you get an inkling, it’s hoped.
So Ari, by one astute comment, tapped into a storehouse of secreted passions, longings, stories and stuff. He more than caught wispy glimpse of an obscure shadowy figure darting forth across my pages before hurriedly retreating into the dark cavern of the unconscious and subconscious.
He, Ari, in his own particular clever giftedness, grabbed hold of the coat of dashing figure, if only for a moment, just long enough to say: “I see you, Mr. Noir. You may be able to hide from the world but you cannot hide from me for I too am a writer and like many counterparts, I bear writer’s block, yet I also have the gift of the wickedly good: perception.”
By instinct and intelligence Ari honed in, on miniscule evidence, on a voice deep in my soul, a voice that whispers, never shouts, a voice recognized by and audible to few.
Noir. Dialogue. The gauntlet is thrown, the challenge is cast, the door of the room is opened (but slightly) and through the crack is exposed by slivered light the back of a figure — man or woman, who can say — in a charcoal coat seated at a small table, the only furnishing visible in an otherwise barren big room, hunched over a typewriter, lit to the right by a small goose-necked lamp, replacing the oil lamp to the left (oil ran out). Tap tap tap. Pecking keys.
Literary smoke from an illiterate cigarette, forgotten, snakes upward, an unseen cobra. Tap tap tap.
I observe, unnoticed like the cloudy cobra, through the 7-inch gap. An intriguing character. I want to meet him, Mr. Noir. Do I dare push through the door, announce my presence, extend to him one free hand and the brand-new unopened bottle of Scotch whiskey I hold by its neck?
“Speaking of necks,” Mr. Noir says, reading my thoughts and turning not even a quarter revolution. “I’m writing a strangulation scene. Come, come in. Give me a hand.”
Strangely, I know I’m in the right place.
In his cavern below the street.
In the writer’s group at the cafe.
It wasn’t a dark and stormy night when I met him, Mr. Noir. It was a dark and bone-dry one.