I sit here, using a music stand as a desk. I can do this because my writing instrument of choice is a Bluetooth keyboard and my cell phone. I use a program called Scrivener, and sync it up with my desktop computer when I need to.
Now that I’ve gotten more adept at using Scrivener and the Weebly cell phone app, there are many days that I don’t even have to do that. I’ve gotten to the point where I can sit in a coffee shop, write some words, determine if they’re worth publishing, and then, if I deem them worthy, copy them from Scrivener into Weebly, edit them, and publish them.
There isn’t much more to say. The life of a writer is not as exciting, externally, as the life of, say, a police officer.
Talk to a cop, and you’re going to get one interesting story after another. In fact, talk to anyone who works with people, such as folks who work in trades and go from house to house, and you’re going to get some great stories. A really great guy I know from Scituate, Massachusetts, Tom F (not to be confused with my other Tom friend, Tom H, who lives in Burlington), is a plumber; I’m sure he has a story or two.
But for a writer, there’s just not that much to say about what you do, except “I sat in one place and moved my fingers.” Sure, I can say what was going on in my head, I suppose, as in “I imagined a group of musk oxen slam dancing to The Bad Brains,” but that’s about it.
Yet there are some people—about six—who don't just want to hear about my thoughts on slam dancing musk ox; they actually want to hear about the simplicity of typing one word after another. These people are my friends.
I’ve often thought of blogs as the most local of news. I imagine my friend Tom H publishing a private newspaper, “The Daily Tom,” and maybe having a circulation of a dozen people. He would write about his wife, Bernice, a nurse, and his children, James and Mary, and how he became a father late in life.
Perhaps some of these entries would strike a common chord among new parents, but the stuff that I’d really want to read in Tom’s paper is probably stuff that wouldn’t generate a feverish response. I’d want to read about his memories of editing my work when he was the arts editor of Massachusetts Daily Collegian (the school paper of The University of Massachusetts at Amherst), and how he (rightly) eviscerated my review of the film “Angel Heart,” specifically about how he (rightly) cut a long, obsessive passage about Lisa Bonet.
Look, I was 20, okay? And you see a lot of Lisa Bonet in that film, and she was a looker. Still is, in fact.
Again, perhaps this would have universal appeal, but more likely, it would appeal to exactly one person, me.
Which would be fine by me, because I’d be an avid reader of The Daily Tom. I’d also be an avid reader of The Daily Bob, in which I’d be following his daughter Katie’s decisions about which college to attend in September of 2018. Then I’d put that down and read The Daily Joe, in which he’d discuss whatever classes his son Paul is taking at Fitchburg State as he pursues a career as a game designer.
From there, I’d read The Daily Christina, in which, in addition to writing about her son, Nico, she’d no doubt write about a pot that she threw that morning.
I should stop and say that for those not well versed in ceramics that “throwing a pot” means making one, as opposed to hurling it against a wall. That’s a key distinction.
And truth be told, should I be fortunate enough to actually get some sort of sizable readership, I will always, to some degree, be writing The Daily Derek. In the same way that I want to know about Tom’s little kids, Bob’s high school senior daughter, Joe’s college student son, and Christina’s newest ceramic project (and, of course, about her son, Nico, who is somewhere along the road in high school), these people actually are interested in the mindless trivia in my life. They actually want to read about how I moved my fingers back and forth, while descriptions of such mundane machinations would no doubt put the average reader to sleep.
It is for this reason that, as I’ve said many times, I always die a little when a friend starts a blog and abandons it. I want to read about their day spent draining the above ground swimming pool, because sooner of later, it will get me thinking of those little things we do that mark the passage of a season. Talk of a draining an above ground swimming pool gets me to thinking about Ray Bradbury’a “Dandelion Wine,” when he talks about the end of summer, and rituals that accompany this, such the taking down of the porch swing.
With that said, I may be lucky, some day, to be writing for a large number of people, but deep down, I will always be writing for these six or seven people. They were with me from the beginning, and they want to know the little things. All that thirty years of writing has taught me is that there’s usually something universal in those little things, but before I figure out what it is, I need to just write about those little things first, and try to figure out the universality of them in a later essay, or later story.
Until then, though, there are my friends, who, deep down, have processed my discussions of those little things, and are usually quite adept at recognizing the universality of them. And I seem to recognize the universality of their seemingly mundane daily machinations. For this reason, when they write letters or emails, I feel as if I’m getting an edition of a newspaper that they’ve written just for me.
And when they write blog entries, it is actually a bit sweeter, because then I can talk to mutual friends, and discuss whatever column our mutual friend wrote that day.
So I continue to write the Daily Derek, which means that for a good chunk of time, my life involves sitting in one place, starting at a small screen, and moving my fingers. My friends, though, are fine with reading about this; they know well enough to recognize the universal need to leave something behind long after we slip this mortal coil, and for their recognition of this, I will always, deep down, be writing for them.