Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Valium, Verismo, Vas Deferens

 1. The use of everyday life and actions in artistic works: introduced into opera in the early 1900's in reaction to contemporary conventions, which were seen as artificial and untruthful.


A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a lecture given by author Dennis Lehane, and meeting him after. During his talk, he spoke of the tendency a majority of writers have to write during very specific times of the day. Either in the morning, just after waking, or late at night. 
  During the height of our day, 'real life' tends to consume and rule our minds. We are thinking about our jobs, bills, families; all of the usual things that make up day to day life. A writer can come up with story ideas and little specifics during these busy hours, but the actual process of writing does seem to come easier at these early or late times of the day. The reason for this, Mr. Lehane says, is because one is still in a half dream state after waking. Late at night, a person will be getting tired, their mind groggy. Therefore, the creative process can come to a writer much easier. One is less likely to dwell on life issues and can focus better on their writing with fewer stray thoughts trying to butt in and take over the brain. This is also, he says, probably why so many of our great authors and artists become alcoholics. They drink while creating because they are trying to perpetuate the waking dream state.
  I cannot claim to be adverse to this idea. I'd be lying if I were to say I didn't do my best writing late at night or during layovers along my morning bus route. Such creativity seems to peter out the higher the sun gets in the sky. 
  I also hold no opposition to having a drink--a small one--before writing at night. To oil the words, so to speak. However, too much tends to drown the muse, and usually coffee or a caffeinated soda will suffice.

  Over a week ago I developed a wicked bit of pneumonia and was prescribed a codeine cough syrup. On top of that, I needed the antibiotics to work quickly as I had a scheduled vasectomy in three days. The idea for an experiment began to develop. Before a vasectomy can be performed one must attend a pre-op consultation with the physician. During this consultation the doctor said that sometimes some men will bring along a book to read or will play on their phones during the procedure to distract themselves from the current goings on. Also, they prescribe Valium to soothe the nerves of any man nervous about the thought of a scalpel running through his scrotum. My natural(?) thought was, I wonder if anyone has ever ventured to write during such a procedure? And initially, I was determined to try. If anyone was going to be the first to do so, why not be that guy? Even if it was to blog something as simple as, "first they're doing the right nut, now they're doing the left nut." 
  But, alas, it was not to be. I had imagined in my mind being in an upright sitting position, feet in stirrups. Instead they have you flat on your back, and ask you to keep your hands on your chest. Also, I was already thrown by the fact that I had forgotten to do the courtesy pre-op shave, and that job had to be done by a sixty-year-old, humorless, Asian nurse who was not happy about that particular task. Then , the doc arrived with two new docs in training who were there to observe. So with four people now in the room to open up my now smooth, iodine-slathered sack of goodies, writing was the last thing on my mind. Someone else will have to be the first. However, I did manage to get them to hand me my phone, and I read about writing on my Kindle app.

  My next failed attempt was to write while on Valium and codeine. What would writing in that specific altered state be like? For me, impossible, as it turns out. My brain just doesn't work that way. Two attempts, two failures. But at least I know. A clearer mind is the more productive in my case.