TRYING NOT TO WRITE
by Rob Lopresti
So here we are in Copenhagen. This is a bit of a surprise.
Not that we got on the wrong plane or anything like that, but Denmark was never on the to-do list, like Israel or Ireland have been. But the opportunity came up, unexpectedly, and like the sophisticated world travelers that we are, my wife and I, after months of panic attacks, decided to take the plunge.
And take the wheels. Copenhagen is one of the world’s great cycling cities. Flat all over and with real bike lanes that are separated both visually and physically from the cars and pedestrians. Very clever design and—
Whoa! Where did that truck come from? Intersections are still tricky.
Gotta stop composing blog entries while pedaling down unfamiliar city streets.
It is a great temptation for a writer to take any opportunity when his body is occupied and his brain is relatively free, such as biking, or mowing the lawn, or doing dishes, to start composing, or editing. If you’re a songwriter you find fragments of lyrics floating through your skull, begging to be pieced together. If you’re working on a story, scenes start to show on the big screen between your ears. And if you—
Red light! They take their bike lanes so seriously here that at some corners there are miniature traffic lights hanging on the side of the main ones, just for bicycles. The lights mostly seem to be there to give bikers a head start over right-turning cars. Ain’t that cool? But they are something else to pay attention to.
Here we are by Tivoli Gardens, the grand old amusement park. And there is City Hall, with its statue of Hans Christian Andersen, which he posed for and approved.
Andersen was a working class boy who wound up famous and knighted. May it happen to every great writer.
Another great Danish author of the time was Søren Kierkegaard. His statue is one of many that ring the Marble Church.
Not surprisingly, the father of existentialism and the father of the Little Mermaid were not best buddies. Too bad, really. Imagine if they had collaborated. Fear and Loathing Thumbelina. Being and Ducklingness.
And speaking of being, where are we now? It would be nice if street signs showed up nearly as often as streets. It’s as easy to get lost here as it is to get distracted.
Speaking of distractions, the night we arrived, still wrestling with jet lag, I snapped awake in the middle of the night with a story idea. I had the first paragraph, the names of two main characters, and a good idea of what happened next.
So as I ride around this beautiful city it is easy to find myself pondering my plot, set in Victorian London, instead of Copenhagen’s artificial lakes and ancient fortresses. The old Buddhist line “Be Here Now” comes to mind.
Uh oh. Speaking of which, my wife is getting pretty far ahead of me. Better catch up. These three-speed rentals are not exactly what we are used to.
The Botanical Garden is a beautiful, peaceful place. We park in front of it and open the water bottles. I pull out my notebook and write:
Trying Not To Write
There. That’s a load off my mind.