Writers in a Room Not Writing – Interpreted by Jason Preu – Part the 1st – The Love of the Useless
, second-year resident, sharp eye, wry smile
ACT ONE, SCENE ONE
Kansas City, MO. Town Pavilion Building. 6th Floor. Spacious studio of CSF writer-in-residence, Lucas Wetzel. Antique typewriters, papers, books, couches, chairs, a stool.
JP sits upon a stool. He converses with the others in the room, none of them writing. He wants to ask a question of LW.
JP: And the question is big and massive. Who are you, man?
LW smiles and chews upon a black, plastic pen. JP knows the taste of pen. He imagines DV and MH to know the same.
LW: Somebody who chews on their pen, chews on paper clips.
JP: Have you always chewed on shit?
JP: You just developed this habit later in life?
This is who writers are: masticators, inventors. To chew is to write is to live.
The conversation turns toward LW’s journaling.
LW: I think the term graphomania is a little fancy and maybe a little clinical. But it’s perhaps, it’s definitely somewhat accurate for what I do and what I’ve done. I’ve filled up a lot of notebooks in my day with scribbles and ideas and things that I’m consigning to some sort of future opus.
JP: So you keep them all?
LW: I’ve transcribed a bunch and thrown a bunch away, but I do keep some of them.
JP: You’re going to pass them down to your kids?
LW: No. The goal is to do everything I want to do and then definitely get rid of all the raw material. So, I’m somebody who definitely is concerned with their legacy and yet has done nothing at this point to indicate that there will ever be any kind of legacy.
Who LW is at this early stage in the conversation: a chewer, a journaler, a legacyologist. Established herein and noted for legacy’s sake.
JP continues to perch upon a stool. He converses with the others in the room, none of them writing. The question passes to DV.
JP:Who are you?
DV: We are all writers.
DV: I’ll talk about writing.
DV: I’m not a writer who’s usually talking about writing.
JP:Where did you study writing?
DV:I went to undergraduate at Rockhurst. I have an MA from Creighton in English and an MFA in Fiction from John Hopkins.
JP:Which is just cool.
DV:It was a great, great two years. It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot.
DV: If there’s a reason why I write and that’s amorphous, it’s probably because I read. I’ve always been a natural reader. I’ve always been bookish and writing is an attempt, if nothing else, to sort of talk back.
Who DV is at this early stage in the conversation: well-credentialed, a reader, a writer who relishes the chance to talk back.
JP perches still, like a skeletal bird, absorbing, listening, breathing, drinking a beer ( just like skeletal birds do). He converses with the others in the room, none of them writing. A question comes to MH.
DV: Matthew, what about you?
MH: What do I like to read? I don’t know anymore. My life has become, like, this struggle between utilitarianism and my love of the useless and like trying to figure out. Like I feel drawn to read things for utilitarian reason like to understand the world. And so, ever since I graduated from college, I’ve been, like, picking a country, and I’ll read the chronology of that literature to, like, better understand Japan or right now – Latin America. I don’t know if I enjoy doing it but I know that I feel good about myself for doing it.
LW: So you read different authors and selections or what are you –
MH: Yeah. I kind of look at, like, what is considered their, you know, paramount pieces of what are essays or novels or poetry. Although I can’t stand poetry. But I’m learning to like it.
LW: I’ve got a good international anthology.
MH: I shouldn’t admit this into a microphone but, like, I don’t understand Pablo Neruda. I don’t get it.
LW: Well, but like, arguably, he didn’t really understand socialism or communism or a lot of the things he promoted.
MH: All those Latin American writers have really intense stories as writers because they all ended up being politicians sort of, or working to governance.
MH: I used to love to read Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, but not anymore.
JP: Those’re big books.
DV: Did we ask Matthew who he was yet?
JP: No, no.
DV: We don’t have to. I –
MH: My answer is a continuation of –
DV: Okay. Good.
MH: Which is: I’m someone who is kind of someone fighting between utilitarian and the love of the useless.
LW: The Love of the Useless is a great working title for this conversation and our lives.
JP: I was going to say, yeah. That sounds like a hell of a memoir.
MH: I do love it. I love the idea of something not having to have a point or not having to change the world or change people. But…I don’t buy into it intellectually. The head and heart do not connect in my life.
JP: There are spaces though for that.
MH: What do you mean?
JP: The fact that nothing needs to happen because of THIS.
DV: I know there’s spaces for it and intellectually my brain says that those spaces are not worth it.
JP: You’re just too young, man.
MH: That’s what it is, maybe. I’m too young.
JP: You’ll grow to appreciate the useless the older you get.
JP decides to move to a more comfortable chair. He converses with the others in the room, none of them writing a single, precious word.