The Importance of Where; A Bi-Weekly Glance at Grayson Russell (#7)
Installment seven of Grayson Russell’s work: “A Writer’s Resume”
It’s been more than two weeks since I’ve featured Grayson. It’s been just about that long since I had heard from him. We made contact the other day which made me glad to know he’s still alive. Not only is he alive but his words sound more lively than I can remember hearing in quite a while. It’s always good to hear from this guy I have come to know as the brother I never had and a writer I look up to.
The piece I am featuring is a writer’s cover letter/resume, “A Writer’s Resume”. It’s humorous and touches on the honest points on the life of a writer. The points where we spend most of our time wondering if we’re actually worth a shit instead of writing words that prove that we are. And, once you’ve finished the essay below make sure to follow the links to his other work. You’ll be impressed.
A Writer’s Resume
No one needs to tell you that a Writers resume is a nefarious thing to ask. They don’t need to tell you that they knew the writer or the friend of the writer or the writer’s purpose, or the wilted focus of his prose. They want to know that a writer can write a little bit better than himself, or in her case, hers. They don’t want to be pinned down in the same room a writer ostensibly is, the ontological evidence of language and emotion strung from wall to wall. Because no one wants to touch that world; they don’t want the dirty Hustler prepubescent posters of a young genius creeping along the sidelines of society.
They don’t want someone who can think and articulate.
But then that is my resume, which is a nefarious thing to ask.
Let me tell you the truth about it. I was eighteen then and I had given up on whatever the world considers giving up. I left college. I left certain jobs. I left a woman that I loved dearly. I left my family, which broke my heart in a unique way. I set out to write, as those in the old days young men set out to sail. And I lost about everything that I could ever love or hold between my two hands. I lost the confidence and security of people. I pushed and was pushed back. I caught on and gave them their leverage; and I fought back because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. The war went forward. We bested ourselves. I won and lost. I left and went into seclusion. I gave up. I quit, by abandoning my gifts.
Then I returned, because I couldn’t quit, or abandon. I found I believed in myself. And that is ten years of nefarious things to ask.
So here is a Writer’s Resume, how it works. We do not choose this. If I had a different path I would quit this nonsense completely. But I have to make the world turn, a different run, and when the world turns, I write. It makes sense. It gets beautiful. It reveals, and I often wonder as a writer how I should manage that I cannot always live or believe in the sense that I wish to because I am selling myself out to you and myself at the same time, and playing both sides of the middle, and no one needs to tell you that that is what a writer does.
I was born half dirt poor, but only half in the middle of a beautiful landscape in a town and state I did not feel comfortable in. I think I felt blind to it for some time, curious as to how the end of the world works, a kid in love with apocalyptic notions, kind of soft fed through purchases of violence and innocence; only dirt and half poor. I remember then trying to get my hands around love as one would at my age around the concept of a mayfly. I didn’t know that love only lasted an evening in the life of a mayfly. I didn’t know that learning to love something meant I had broken a promise, and that the promise I had broken could never be mended.
I am so sorry that read like a receipt on a bad shopping day shoved into the bottom of a girl’s purse. Let me introduce myself. My name is Grayson Russell. Here is what some people say of me: This is a man who has a story you’d want as a writer: the bouts of homelessness, dropping everything and moving to France to just get away, living in a crack-infested apartment in New York, working a shitty, backbreaking job in South Carolina, writing fantastic essays in obscurity, or balancing on the cusp of giving up writing all together. The idea hits me to post his genius here as a guest writer to break up some of the monotony of my work.
What draws me to his style is the premise of his writing. He shacks himself up in dive bars or rundown buildings in the middle of nowhere to give himself a new setting to dance with. While Grayson may briefly mention whatever structure he is in or around in the essay itself, the magic comes from the stories he sees while there. He takes a piece of history or literature and ties it in to wherever he has locked himself in to. It’s an interesting approach that bleeds out his emotions as well as any memories the building may offer up for his essay.
~ @ I have written for such and such and so and so, first because I wanted to break into the business, and lastly, for money. They never paid.
~ But that was at @ at, and they never paid.
So what does a girl do when it rains on her Louis Vuitton’s?
She digs into her handbag to find the receipt and then starts to bullshit her way out of why she is wearing them in the first place.
Because if you are a real writer, writing is a crime.
Here are my Crimes:
Six months at the Sumter Daily Item, 17, a sports stringer.
A good eighteen weeks of technical college before I quit. ( I was the top of my class, in writing 101 )
Walked out, went to a real university, brushed up, dressed accordingly, and was told I was too smart and arrogant to enter the program. I had read an essay by Robert Luis Stevenson called Puvis Et Umbra. In Latin it means the shadow of things. I walked out of class that day and left the real university because my professor asked me to. He liked to smoke. I remember that. We would smoke together but he was dying of his cancer. He went to Africa and wrote in a way that Hemingway never could.
He asked me flatly what do you want . “I said I want to write”. Then go and write he said, go and get out into the world. He died that summer. He is the only person I have ever known that read Stevenson’s essay.
I went, and got into that godforsaken and goddamn world. I booked a flight straight to Paris, and I didn’t even have a passport. An old love of mine bought it for me as a getting away gift.
I tried to write or rewrite all the beautiful moments I spent at the University, and then I stared to drink; but I came back from the causality of the bottle. It took me over.
Paris spent me, so did Spain, so did the world.
At thirty I landed in New York city and made a dirty business of it, because I slept such long hours, and I was learning to read the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.
Then I got home and shit got worse, and I managed to be the worse for the shit.
I started writing, and getting fucked by the blue sides of life.
It’s tough to come back home, to say you walked out of a University, Paris, the dirty shitheel business of it.
The blue sides of life, you deal. You just pretend and believe that at some point this has to be over, and that this and the shit heel business of it is something you will write about for the rest of your life.