why we write: timothy schuler

7 Dec
The following is the second installment of “Why We Write,” a series of personal reflections on the craft of writing. Each installment is poignant in its own way, but in sum the series is a sincere and astounding collection of thoughts, emotions, and ambitions regarding the profession of writing. Take of each what you will.

:: :: ::

Timothy Schuler

It comes down to patience. And television. The warping of neural pathways and higher education and thinking ourselves into abstraction.

It’s about the Puerto Rican cafe around the corner and its plain black coffee in its plain white cups and the guava-and-cream-chese turnovers, which stick to their paper and shed sugary flakes like dead leaves. And how you can’t ask someone to sit there and listen to you calculate the mathematical correlation between suicide rates and GDP. Or hash out conspiracy theories about the Obama and Google based on the public listings of White House visitors. You can’t expect someone to listen as you tell them feminism isn’t working because it’s just making women into men. Tell them it’s like using money as the measure of success for the poor but no one else.

“This is what it comes down to. The absence of an infinite reciprocity.”

You can’t expect this because your coffee is hot now, but it will cool and you’ll take a drink and they’ll slip in a word edgewise. Like a wedge. And it’ll open up a chasm. And their ego will spill into the conversation and it will battle yours like beetles in late summer. Fifteen minutes and there’s no consensus or memory of the idea, which is fine because you weren’t saying it right anyway.

You need to go back and reread the Wall Street Journal article. There was something about work and family, about the brain and crime, about teacups and relationships and recycling in Switzerland and it was all canned and on the shelf earlier today, but something fell and now everything’s everywhere and they’re just looking at you, waiting for you to take a sip. Because they can’t clean it up either, and things are piling up, and the leak is getting worse, and there’s a clanging that sounds like armageddon.

This is what it comes down to. The absence of an infinite reciprocity. Relying on the page because it won’t ever disagree. It won’t check its phone for the time. It won’t change the topic. It comes down to synthesis. It comes down to understanding.

:: :: ::

“Why We Write” originated as part of Hostel Tuesdays, a writer’s collective that meets in the south study room on the seventh floor of Chicago’s downtown library. It meets on Wednesdays.

Previous authors: Sean Conner, Michael Danaher.

One Response to “why we write: timothy schuler”

  1. Gwen Sears Bullock December 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Absence of reciprocity and no battling egos! Sweet – I think you’ve nailed it.

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