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Amber Paulen

This is Not a Book!


A year, six months ago, I thought that I was an artist. I no longer think about it, I am. Everything that was literature has fallen from me. There are no more books to be written, thank God.

This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, defamation of character.

—Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer


It has been with my hyperextended curiosity that I have looked at these words from unusual angles and have not gotten any closer to knowing what they mean. And when I write knowing I mean feeling, and when I write feeling I mean knowing with the gut in the largest unarguable sense that comes over me. This is not a book. I know that this is not a blog but I don’t know if this is not a book. Sometimes I want to know only because I don’t want it to be one. The choice is up to me. But how does one make a book into not book? A be into not be?

I have noticed, that by a flick of consciousness, I am able to make it less of a book by thinking less of it. Not thinking at all about it. Letting the words live their own existence on the page, separate from me and the dictating machine hidden in my mind that made them so. As the words hit the page and with each drop of the typewriter arm: Smash! Wham! Bam! Destruction. Let the days of Revelation come to pass I’ve got a golden pen and all that comes out of it is… Glory! Glory!

Sometimes I think I keep on and keep at it to spite it.

So, if I did admit it, like I always do anyway: What do you do with your time in that quaint village of Bracciano?

Me: I’m writing a book.

Them: Oh, what is it about?

Me: Well… I guess it’s partly autobiographical but other than that I have no clue.

As a book, would it then go up on the shelf with all those titles upon titles upon tomes upon books that could have stayed in people’s fingers, for it’s a god-damned clutter out there. As a person, writing a book, would I then be an artist? Do I want to be an artist?

I want to have complete mental and creative freedom. I want to be the type of person who can drop from one mystical magical level of being to another at the snap of my fingers. I want to listen to silence better, every silence, such silence that comes on loud nights, such silence in the spaces between dead branches, such silence in empty spaces. I want this thing I’m writing to be like the little arms which do my typing, and which brings silence after the smash. I want this thing I’m writing to bring silence, like the open spaces where the wind blows through and whispers. I want the whispers of this book to be stronger than the shouting we witness every single day.

It is not difficult to keep writing when I don’t think about it; when words come from the silent spaces.

I have no ambition to become anything. If my words do, it is because they have left me. I mark no way posts between the beginning and the end. When the end comes, because it has to come, maybe I’ll have a party and you’ll be invited or maybe I’ll sit quiet to myself and drink a glass of wine and smile my secret smile and think, “It’s not a book, it’s a joke, for the world.”


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