Not a Gilligan day, not really, since there was no sailing, although life revolved around the boat. Ah, the boat. skip ahead with me to twilight with the warm pacific sun making its stately way over to burn the crap out of japan, leaving us be for a few hours. (I laugh as it trails away; it has not hurt me this day. I’m on to its little games.)
To the west palm trees stand in silhouette against a turquoise sky. I am alone on the boat; all the others have left to handle some emergency or another. That they are all immersed in emergencies makes my position of peace all the more seductive. I am writing in my head, writing this in fact, and I am reflecting on what the man at the yacht club bar said.
I was pounding away on The Monster Within, filling in one of the holes in the story with a pretty heavy dose of feel-good (I think we all deserve it by then). The Byrnes had given up on me being good company by then and had gone about their boat business. Things were working.
Most of the time when someone interrupts me while I’m writing in a bar it’s “Hey! Hey! Yo! Dude! How do you concentrate in here!?” This time it was different. I was pondering the meaning of life and the effect that life had on everything else when a grey-haired guy in a cap asked me very politely, “What’s driving you?” That’s the kind of question I should be ready for–its the kind of question I ask myself all the time.
Yeah, right. Obviously when I ask myself the question I’m not taking myself seriously, because I still don’t know the answer. My answer to him was “I’m writing a novel.” That wasn’t the answer to his question. That’s like answering the question “What kind of gas are you burning?” with “I drive a convertible.” Nevertheless, he forgave my evasion with enthusiasm. “That’s great! That’s great!”
Some time in the course of the conversation, I told him in the barest terms about the homeless tour, with an emphasis on the freeloading aspcet (for indeed without the freeloading the tour would not be possible) and he pointed at me and said “Faulkner!” Thus it was not for any perceived literary ability that the comparison with a great author was made–no, it was the cheapness of the endeavor that earned me that flattering appellation.
We talked for a few more minutes, he questioning me about my familiarity with existentialism (woefully small) and me talking about the American Road Myth. He was so damn happy to meet someone of “my generation” who was, in his word, “thoughtful”. (He meant thoughtful as in ‘full of thought’, not ‘thinking always of others’. Just ask any of my ex’s about the difference.) He made a comment that the correct word for writing was actually ‘thinking’, and I told him that my best writing was done when I wasn’t writing at all. It was when I was driving across the desert having my head baked by the sun. For him, writing is thinking; for me, thinking is writing. He was a good guy. He gave me his card.