Jim Trainer

Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#63: Dear Kate Caldwell

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2021 at 9:12 am

The Office of Jim Trainer
P.O. Box 49921
AUSTIN TX

Kate Caldwell
2906 Fruth Street
AUSTIN TX 

1/26/19, 1:05

Lovely

Well.  This ought to be a delight, for the love as they say and anyway stray far from the invariable routine of writing I have come to painfully understand as head v. wall.  At least that’s how it’s always felt which, let’s face it, feelings are everything.  It’s why the broken prevail and the gifted only go on gliding.  If I wasn’t suffering I might’ve given up and done something else with my time besides stare at a screen and stalk my mortal coil one cigarette at a time.  Wisdom may be recognising how blessed we are, even and especially, within the travesty and dysfunction of our rattled brain and carnival heart.  Country simple—writing hurts but so does living and that pain was worse so writing won out.  I can do 1,200 words now, no problem, but, back in 2010 beer was required and an “inner parent” I hope to God no one close to me ever has to see.  I’ve something like Joan Crawford roaming my psyche and anyway dark motivations inform and inspire me heaps more than anything positive or pollyanna and close to the reasoning of an MFA poet.  The great poet Lamont Steptoe wrote “my dream got broken glass in it” and he ought to know.  My work has blood in it and vengeance is why, if anyone wants to know, though I don’t think anybody does after reading some of my black verse.  There’s a lot of clearing off in my work.  Being a  lifetime sufferer of a major-depressive disorder I’ve come to appreciate stillness more than joy.  I sought refuge in my work and that’s not a bad thing but now, from this peak, I can see the chain.

I don’t sing because I’m blue anymore but that doesn’t rule it out.  The truth is there is nothing wrong in my life right now.  I can write a song about anything in the world.  Whatever strikes my fancy or piques my interest, which, let’s be honest—is terrifying.  Tabula rasa, indeed.  What I am trying to say is Art has taken me to the other side, Kate.  I’m here, I made it and I’m glad I did.  The tricky part about being a 43-year old Artist who’s used his angst as fuel and vengeance as his motivation for the better part of his career is when peace comes—what then?  Every songwriter worth his or her salt knows that writing a happy song is probably the biggest charge that comes with the job.  The blues?  In my sleep honey.  Heartbreak?  Ha.  I don’t think I’ve written a song that isn’t about heartbreak.  But happiness?  Joy?  Even Madonna knows there’s no point in writing when you’re happy. Everything’s connected and everything is shrinking behind it’s own facade but true songs about real happiness are a hard dollar and a harder sell. Just ask Cory Branan or Randy Newman.  This culture can choke on itself but Rock and Roll can never die.

Thanks for this opportunity.  Letter writing is a fount for me, and I’m able to loop around my bad blues and depression or any thorn and thicket of life keeping me from banging keys.  Ask Stephen King.  Taking the focus off the self is never bad especially if your gig is at least thirty six hundred words on the Night Kitchen of your own skull, and the frame of reference for your work is you and you alone and for fuck sake.  Also I am especially inspired to write to such a brilliant and gorgeous dynamo as you.  You’re making this easy, Kate, easier than it usually is writing to others which is anyway heaps better than writing for and/or about myself.  The Lonely Kingdom.  Either way, I’ve come to covet the diffuse light through these apartment blinds.  I’ll crack them, sure, right around cup#4 of espresso roast with honey, like I do.  Coffee is such a workingman’s drug and profoundly writerly.  Cigarettes too, I suppose, and bourbon and these are a few of my favorite things.  I can’t think on what my heroes would’ve done because they would’ve done all 3 plus something a little more, maybe, a pick-me-up for the dark, hungover mornings.  Put it to you this way, Dylan Thomas would not be my go to for inspiration on how to write sober, Buk or Thompson either.  I’m a writer so I need to write and that much I will gladly and continuously from them glean.  That leaves Rollins, Uncle Hank.  

Henry is known to drink black coffee.  He’s an Aquarius, like you, and he’s got the disciplined insanity of one.  He’s probably had the biggest influence on me out of all of them.  He basically said to me, at a young age, that I could do it and in fact would.  I’ve no other way to explain the change that came over me when I first saw a copy of One From None on my friend J.’s stoop in 1992 in thee hated and most-reviled hometown of Upper Darby PA.  Thank god for heroes, eh?  Or else where would we be?  Don’t answer that.  The strangest thing about regret is its motivating power.  Nothing inspires me to blindly strike the monolith and attempt the impossibility of surviving as a writer in the new century more than knowing I done goofed.  I fucked up, Lady.  The decades, the moments, in the thrall of nothing at all when depression would not let me off the hook.  I understand it’s a disease now and I’d never give that back.  I know what it’s like to let it go because I have and I’m older than I ever hoped or feared but—I’ma have a go again.  Because fuck ‘em that’s why.  Roger Daltry ain’t the only one whose love is vengeance and I know losing well enough to know regret doesn’t make a shit in the long game unless it’s fuel.  It took me 43 years to arrive at this moment.  I’m not letting it go.

Stay beautiful.

Ab irato,
Jim Trainer
AUSTIN TX

Friday is #letterday. Send me your address and I’ll write you a #letter
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Friday is #letterday. Send me your address and I’ll write you a #letter
#goingforthepost #goforthepost #jimtrainer #writerslife

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