On Writing at The Beagle (or, The Infinite Grace of M.)

In those days, I wrote exclusively at the pub. Ironically, even with all the distractions a pub provides, with all those beautiful waitresses and patrons, with the limitless amount of beer and whiskey behind the oaken elbow polished bar, I found I could focus better there than anywhere else. The candlelight added an additional flair: I loved the way it danced upon the table top, urging me further and further into the depths of my own, alcohol addled brain.

The pub provided a curious mixture of public and private. While it was the conversational hub of the small Victorian neighborhood in which I lived, I went there to go into myself. I never spoke to anyone while I was there. I put on my headphones and blocked out everything else. People thought I was insane: I liked that.

Some took offense to my solitude, especially when the Canucks were playing. On several occasions, dudes came up to me after Vancouver scored a goal shorthanded, or some other “amazing” moment in sport occurred. These dudes slammed their calloused paws down on the table and screamed at me until I slipped out of oblivion and pulled the headphones from my ears.

“Yes?”

Fuck dude! Who the fuck do you think you are? You think you’re too good to get into the action? It’s the fuckin’ playoffs, dude! Get a fuckin’ clue!”

“Sorry. I will wear my jersey next time.”

On those nights, I would take my computer with me when I went outside for a smoke. I never got beat up, but usually jogged home, just to be on the safe side.

When I got home, I wasn’t always received with open arms. For good reason. I came home late, both exhausted and worked up from hours upon hours of solitude. Margo was forced to bare the brunt of the tremendous force of language that burst from my beer soaked tongue upon arriving home.

Rarely was I belligerent or disturbed; rather, I was elated after writing this or that many words. I was extremely verbose when I got home, and very loud. Sometimes I picked up a copy of Milton and read it aloud for hours upon hours. I would speak both angels and demons into existence on those nights and I, like Milton, was essentially blind.

Sometimes, I forced upon Margo the music that had particularly inspired me in all those hours alone at the pub with my iPod. I preferred to play the vinyl copies of a songs when I got home, of course, which made it even more excruciating for her as cueing a song on vinyl is a difficult task even for sober fingers. I zeroed in on a particular second or two of a song that had captivated me earlier in the evening and played it over and over while jumping up and down, extolling the virtues of a particular guitar tone or drum fill.

This went on for months, until I finally finished writing the novel, or thought I had, at least.

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