Looking-Glass Life


I had to read Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There* for the assignment I was madly trying to finish for Monday. (Done!) I’m sure I’ve read Alice in Wonderland dozens of times, but how is it I don’t really remember the rest? Well, I think it’s nonsense. Perfect nonsense. In it, Alice imagines what her house on the other side of the looking glass would be like. The room would be the same room, only things would go the other way. The books would be something like her books, but the words would read the wrong way, which she knows, of course, from holding a book up to a mirror. And it gets better. You remember what is about to happen before it happens. You feel the pain of a pricked finger before you prick it, so you can bandage yourself minutes before you bleed. To get somewhere you should walk in the opposite direction. To stay in one place, run as fast as you can. If you’re a writer I guess you’d see the outcome of your book before even putting the first word on the page—and would that be better, or far worse, for the writing of it?

I often think of my life, if I’d chosen other things. If things were upside down, sideways, just plain screwy. That could be good, you know. If I were on the other side of that glass, I would write stories while asleep and eat them for breakfast. My day job would be to sabotage books, not to clean them. I’d insert expletives, delete punctuation, change homonyms, and use permanent marker instead of pencil so my comments can never ever be erased. When I want to write a story and nothing’s coming, I wouldn’t have to sit at the desk staring at a screen wishing for inspiration. I’d flip pancakes, or walk a trapeze, and the story would fall fully formed out of the air into my hands squirming and wriggling—so the struggle would be not how to write it but not to drop it and let it roll away. Better yet, I’d sit at the desk, and stare at the screen, and type ghjjg fdsjkl hh7hkjhk gjhgue iu jsjrjejj and the nonsense words would sort themselves like a possessed bowl of alphabet soup into snippets of shimmering genius. It would be easy—and when something’s too easy you tend to care little for it.

I guess that’s why I’m here.

(* Which, of course, brings to mind a friend’s blog, with one great title.)

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