06 Nov 07

Parting Advice from T-Bone (2)

“I’m more likely to be hanging out at the library than at a club with women like that,” I said.
“You think people don’t do drugs at libraries?” T-Bone said. “At the Phoenix library these two guys started talking to me about Civil War history. We continued the discussion at a coffee shop. We were having an intense enlightening conversation. The next thing you know one of the guys goes, ‘I wanna do a line to wake up.’ So I leave 'em to it. I get in my truck and keep going. They weren’t my type of people. They were brainiacs like you. And if you are going back to university, so many people do drugs there, it’s unreal. It’s part of college life now to do glass to stay up.”
“I know.”
“You need to understand some simple things. All kinds of challenges are gonna come at you – bam! - ’cause you’re back out there again.”
“I’m not gonna worry about it. My mum’s more worried than I am.”
“That’s ’cause she loves you. You’re getting out, the weather’s gonna hit you, your mom’s face, your father’s face, your sister, the smell of the house, memories, memories good, memories bad, you’ll think about stuff that happened here – the American women – and your gonna miss that. There’s gonna be times when you feel bored, lonely, incomplete, and those are the moments when you’ve gotta make the right choices. In your little town there’s not gonna be a whole lotta things going on on the surface.”
“I know, but I intend to go back to university.”
“For what?”
“Creative writing.”
“You’re an intelligent man, you don’t need a professor to teach you something you already know how to do.”
“I need refinement.”
“And practice will bring you that. Find some interesting characters to write about. You’ll be like Dickens.
I’ve come to realise, patience is the key when you first get out of prison. You have to develop things, build things slowly. There’s people who are positive and negative that are going to be coming into your life – some will be sneaky, some will be outright. If they catch you in certain moods and situations and you make a bad choice, you will fall. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a stretch limo or a Mini Cooper, you hafta be able to size them up and make the right choices in every situation you are in. When I first got out, I thought I’d changed from my old ways, but I went back to it in a different way. There’s levels of stupidity. You think, Well, I’ve changed. I’ll do it this way now. I’ll go to the clubs, but not get in the mix. I’ll just get a drink, say hello to a few people and leave. But then you fall right back into it.”
“My focus is on writing, not clubbing.”
“So you’ve made a conscious decision that that’s what you’re gonna focus on in your life?”
“Yes.”
“If you’re set with that then you can’t deviate if things go south.”
“I won’t, I’ll persevere.”
“You never know what tomorrow will throw at you. There are levels of intensity you’ve gotta go through, like being a Royal Marine set on defending England. Or the guys with the bearskin caps that stand there without blinking. It takes a special man to be able to do that – English focus – and you have that in your blood. You have ability, just apply it. Apply the positive you’ve learned; the negative, get rid of it. Stay focussed on your objective. Don’t allow small-minded people to come along and bring you down. With a mind like yours, you’re gonna make money, but challenges will arise. And don’t forget to sit down with Mom and Pop.”
“I won’t.”
“I know you won’t go back to your old ways because if you do then you’re gonna have to deal with me.”
“Yikes!”
“I’m gonna miss ya, man.”
“I’m gonna miss you too. L ’n’ R, my friend.”
“L ’n’ R and God bless you.”
Through Yard 1’s perimeter fence, I shook one of the biggest hands I’ve ever seen - the hand of T-Bone.

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood

35 comments:

Kate R said...

T-bone could be right, you know. University didn't work for me because talking about writing made it intimidating and shut me down.
Got John Gardner's book? How about Stephen King's autobiography?

An alternative is to join writing groups of PROFESSIONAL writers to find structure and give yourself artificial deadlines.

In university one spends too much time thinking about other people's writing and talking about the act. It teaches you to be a great reader, which is important. But to be a writer you just write, write, write hours a day.

Or not. Everyone's got her own method. Maybe it didn't work for me because after polishing a few short stories and getting them into literary journals, I discovered I have a mass-market soul.

If you need discipline imposed from the outside, then yeah, maybe you should do university. OH BUT...Oops, I forgot, you won't have to pay as much over there. Yay for public education!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Just thought Id let you know I have spent an enjoyable day here at work (Manchester, England) doing nothing else but reading your blog, no idea whether you still have have access to these emails but seriously when you get out you should have them published into a book. You are a good writer and it is a very interesting read.
All the best for the future.
W.

Dorion said...

You should go back to college if thats what you want to do. I love college. BUT, you certainly don't need it for your writing. You have been through a masters program of life. You have insight and experience that few people have and add to that the ability to convey it on paper eloquently. You sir have it all.
I'm a fan of rhythm and blues music. The saying goes if you aint lived it you can't sing it. You lived it. .now write it.

joannie said...

Another view that might add to the mix-I needed a college setting to help me move forward with my art career. I was EXTREMELY fortunate and blessed to be in a small town with a community college that had a fantastic art program, all instructors working artists. I developed mentoring relationships with my instructors and got job oppportunities and shows through those relationships. But then there were students I knew who really were set on a path and didn't need to go further. That could be you. Perhaps a semester or two will show you what's what.

Also, as my niece well put it, you can get drugs anywhere (she is a recovering prescription pill addict). She had an experience of watching someone take some in a recovery meeting. The only way to be completely safe is to hide in your house, and even then...if you're not interested in that lifestyle anymore eventually the world gets the message. Just be aware that the old lifestyle fed a need-find out what that is and get properly nourished.

John said...

I feel like prison may have been your college; what you need is a good editor who respects you and is careful not to lose your voice.

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