Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Where Writers Write: Wintfred Huskey

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series that features authors as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Wintfred Huskey. 

Wintfred lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA. He is the author of the novel Blowin' It. He models his writing game after ex-pitcher Jamie Moyer, relying on cantankerousness and persistence over charisma and proficiency.

Where Wintfred Huskey Writes

In getting acquainted with this “Where Writers Write” page, I noticed that, for the most part, writers are literally writing about where they write and sharing photos of their desks and chairs and what not. I have my own spot that I write at in the mornings, too, but there's no real reason for it beyond compulsion or possibly some kind of pheromonal thing happening. Either way, I don't think that the blue formica table and red chair are worth photographing. So far, these are hardly the makings of an essay (especially if there's some kind of word count). So let me tell you about Philadelphia, PA, which is where I write.

            When I get done writing and head off to my real, bill-paying full-time-part-time job, the first thing I see is the lot across the street that is being built up into some sort of a large cluster of housing. (This is also the first thing I hear most mornings, too.) At present, I have a clear view of the grand mosque and the grimy pizza place I order from often, but six months from now? …

            Philadelphia is changing and in my corner of it those changes are coming lickety-split. Less than 20 years ago, during the throes of the go-go 90's, the city decided to erect a statue of Don Quixote and his horse Rocinante at 2nd and Girard, three blocks from my house. According to the internet, the area was an “empowerment zone” back then, and the character represented hope for a bright and economically-vibrant tomorrow. Today, he and his horse sit across the street from the big glass-and-steel supermarket and a few blocks from multi-purpose outdoor plaza with retail at ground level and luxury apartments looming above. I guess the statue worked, but I have some misgivings about the scene as I walk by.

            Obviously, I'm the reason why the place is changing. People like me moving here, I mean. Then again, I can't afford to live in a luxury apartment or shop at a boutique. I don't feel especially empowered by these facts. Still … a nice, self-loathing edge can do wonders for a writer. On paper, at least. So I remind myself that all these big, ugly, snapped-together buildings are partly all my fault.

            Moving on, (I've got a train to catch!), I pass by Don Quixote and head east. I see a raggedy older man walking towards me, talking gruff into his cell phone. I perk up my ears and hear him say, “Well guess what? Even with the, uh, chili situation you're talkin' about, they knew how that would go down and you can't complain to Linda Donovan about it because she was in on it too.”

            If I don't write these things down, who will?

            If you think I'm nosy (or as many Philadelphians prefer, 'newsy'), consider that Flannery O'Connor said that a “writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.” I'm not implying that I'm near as good as Flannery O'Connor (then again, who is?); I'm just pointing out that I have a writing authority's permission to do things like eavesdrop on snippets of old men's conversations. (I have a rather liberal interpretation the quote used above.)

            I next drop my token into the turnstile and get whisked off towards City Hall Station, where I make my free interchange. I spot the beggar who I never have change for. I wonder if he notices me, sees me stride by Monday-thru-Friday and thinks 'it must be 1:30' or 'there goes that cheapskate' or something.

            On the northbound express train, I sit and look like I am reading, but, actually, I'm busy worrying that liberal arts types are the only ones really paying attention to all these screwy little details. I hope that accountants and RNs and paralegals in Philadelphia wonder about all these people the see and hear around them, but maybe they don't. Maybe they can afford not to. I don't know. I'm depressed by the thought that a certain underpaid and overeducated segment of the population might be the only ones paying attention. I am so distressed by this revelation, I nearly miss my stop.

            Enough of that self-righteous weepiness, though – I need to switch into work-mode. I come up from the subway onto Broad and Erie and I am greeted like I am each weekday: by enormous, legible block letters that spell “forever boner” down the side of an abandoned 14-story building. I always make it a point to just look at this strange declaration (because for all I know, erasing this graffiti landmark inches closer to the top of the mayor's “to-do” list every day). The words stick straight up from the rest of the skyline like, well ... like an exclamation point. It is so weird and ostentatious … forever boner … on the corner of Broad Street and Erie Avenue … in an underprivileged neighborhood called Nicetown … five miles from where they signed the Declaration of Independence … where they could use a statue of Don Quixote, too ….  
            But forget it's time to forget all of that – it's time for work.
            When I get back home, after doing the whole commute detailed above in reverse, back to the blue formica table and the red chair, my brain is too dulled-down to write. But before I dull things further with beer and television and whatever else, I try and get some of the day down in bullet points, “Linda Donovan”, “Forever Boner”, and so on, so that the next morning, when I am sufficiently refreshed to begin the tediousness of writing, I actually have a few things to try and write about.

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