My good friend Denton Loving enjoys typing in the nude, but I prefer to wear shoes when I write. It makes me feel polished and situated. I like to believe that at a distance of forty feet I could pass for someone without any troubles. Like someone who had a valid driver’s license. Someone who was so good at driving that other people wouldn’t mind being passengers. Like someone who drove all the time, and gave strangers the hand wave off the steering wheel, and yielded to the right at confusing intersections.
Like someone who never drove home naked in a Jeep after clubbing in Norfolk with that Holy Pentecostal Denton Loving.
Baring my soul is just plain easier if I’m dressed in a woodsy cardigan with button wheels sliced from a sapling. And my work is way too messy and barefoot for me to actually write in bare feet.
Sure, wearing shoes is just an illusion, but it’s a big one for me. One of a million little lies that end up making a bobcat. The math is simple: ten illusions make a lie, and fifty lies make a story, and a hundred stories make a truth, and a two hundred truths make a bobcat you shoot from the porch. Every lie gets you closer to the dead bobcat.
Sometimes I’ll re-write a story using tercets, as if it were a poem. I know how wrong it is, but it’s reassuring to see so many pages of things coming in threes.
Footwear isn’t permitted inside the house. I’ve got sugar lumps on my skull to prove it. If it’s going to be a writing day then it’s going to be a shoe day. And shoe days are outside days. If it’s raining on my poem I dry it out at the coffee shop at the crossing. If it’s cold I just freeze, but it’s a happy freeze.
I also like the long walk into the trees before writing. It’s a touch of quiet aimless thinking before surrendering to the electric shake lighting me up.
Heading off to write on the other side of the farm is also a way of checking for trouble. Something about checking for trouble outdoors, when I’m already in lots of trouble on the inside, sort of takes me out of my own trouble.
And there’s no internet, and only spotty cell phone service. Anyone wants me they have to scream like they mean it.
I’ve written two novels in this chair. And stories that could be novels. And poems that should have been songs except I haven’t any pitch.
In May, the native ferns are mighty. Small game are plenty…groundhogs that can turn completely around inside their pelts, hares and foxes. And once in a while, a frustrated coyote. My three neighbors usually receive permits to take four hundred deer, one for every three acres planted in corn. But deer can smell a permit a mile away. They seem to know whether someone is vegetarian or not and most don’t even stand up when I walk past, strumming my sonnet like a five-stringed thing.
This note originally appeared in Revolution John