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The Trouble with Hank

from The Reeducation of a Turd Peddler
by John Henry Peabody

“Writing called upon a part of my brain
that might not even exist.”

I’M HAVING A LOT OF trouble writing the story.
  For three months, I’ve met with tribal elders, common folk, pure bloods, mestizos, Yankees and flat landers. I got all the names, pinned up of all kinds of events on sheets of paper tacked to two different walls, taken god knows how many notes gone over umpteen million times and I still I can’t seem to pull it off.
  I may not be a writer. At least not a good one.
  It was beginning to look like “A Trip Down 101” or “Favorite Trails of The Central Coast, Vol. One” was about all I might hope to pull off. The great novelist turned to caption writer—I suppose I could accept that.
  I suppose.
  My thesis was hard enough. No one had ever done that: “Coprolite Densities of Central Coast Indians: A Tactile Comparison”? Come on—most people were looking at arrowheads and baskets, cave paintings, bone tools and shaman’s charmstones. They wanted the romantic stuff, the spiritual stuff, the stuff that put deceased natives in the realm of ET and Merlin the Magician. To some people it didn’t matter that moderns put men on the moon or built electron microscopes. They all wanted to know what secret knowledge jacked up Native Americans had while making cave paintings, high on datura. Nobody wanted to spend time with terds dropped in Malibu a thousand years ago. Leave it to me to establish a field that itemized, categorized, accessorized and glossarized shit no one wanted to pay attention to.
  And writing it all up called upon a part of my brain that might not even exist.
  That was when Janet came in and saved me. I hadn’t realized she was such a good writer. Like most people, though, I hadn’t realized that as a lawyer she passed the bar exam. You have to be able to write well to pass the bar. That’s why lawyers are, for the most part, good writers. As for the rest of us—a crapshoot, really.
  You think that if you had a good education, a Bachelor’s, Master’s, even a Ph.D., you could write. But that’s not true. John Cheever didn’t have any of that. Sam Shepard didn’t have any of that. Emily Dickinson didn’t have that. Being a good writer demanded a bit of the savant in a person. It demanded a talent that might even be based on a lack of education. But what did I know? I knew shit—ha ha—but I didn’t know, it seemed, shit about writing.
  I looked at the stack of post-it notes that had passed for my book project the last three months and figured, at the least, I was leaving behind something my “biographers” could piece together.
  Let them figure it out. They might know how to write.

Visit other links where Hank may have had some success writing:

Chapter 1 of The Reeducation of a Turd Peddler

Chapter 2
"Walking Through the Festival"

Ward Craven, Star of TV's "Skipper!"

Chapter 3
"Janet's Story"

Chapter 4
"Drinks at the Rusty Pelican"

Chapter 5-ish
The Story of Darby Hipper

Sean Heaney, "The Pelican Man"



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