Complicating Raymond Carver

The thing of it was being Raymond Carver in my sleep, and this was well before the movie. In fact, if you want to know about it, the movie was just like a public version of a secret and it watered the whole feeling down for me, like when you find out later that the jingle for a soap commercial is really a piece of church music, a hymn or something serious. I hate that.

Anyway, it was waking up, and being half-asleep for a few minutes that allowed me to be those other things, or at least for a little while. But then, to begin with, it was almost impossible to get myself out of bed at all, even though I might’ve wanted to, or a part of me did. It was as if I was Dick Powell “sinking into a pool of blackness that opened up and pulled me in.”

Somehow I agreed to a little deal with myself, a contract almost concerning thoughts and ideas had while lying warm in bed. I would repeat the idea or line over in mind on the basis that I could let go again and be sure I’d remember it later. But I never did remember.

And so then I began to struggle very hard, but not in a way that would make me wake up completely and ruin it, and one morning, before five at least, and after I’d tried just writing down sentences on paper left by the bedside which never worked, because later all I ever had were words disconnected from anything as though they were in Polish or something, I slid out of bed and, knowing enough to put on a woolen shirt to save the cold from bringing me around too quickly, I told my wife I had to write something down, and made it to the machine before waking.

And this is where a machine is good, because a machine isn’t like a pencil you’re attached to. But then, after a few hundred words, the sun came up, as though I’d cheated it by getting awake early, and it made the sky all white while still being mainly invisible, and everything was lost somehow, and I then thought about shaving and taking the bus on into work.


I never got to a second page in those days, even though I typed about as fast as I could.