Symptoms Include: The Writing Guy
Among the many regular loiterers demonstrating street-loon schtick at the Pseudonym Bookstore, where I ostensibly “worked” during the 1980’s, was the Writing Guy. A fixture of downtown Charleston, the Writing Guy was exceptionally clean, mild-mannered, and seemingly sober. He moved lightly and slowly, as if afraid the sidewalk might crumble beneath him, panhandling with a near-whisper, embarrassed to disturb. Above all, he seemed like a man who longed to become invisible.
Yet in his solitude, he was clearly devoted to some higher intellectual cause which demanded his scholarship. When a notion struck him, he would stop mid-creep along his daily rounds, produce his pad and pen, and commit some eureka musing to paper. Sometimes these inspirations came fast and heavy, and he would furiously transcribe wherever he happened to be standing (I never saw him sit down to write). Fortunately, the Writing Guy had developed his own shorthand.
Often he would hand a few of his handwritten pages to a Pseudonym clerk, requesting, “Now, you mail that for me.” We were never told where they should be sent, much less how to translate his homespun code of squiggles, stars, and random punctuations. But we agreed to transmit his messages, as it was clear we had nothing more important to do.
Today, as has been my practice for decades, I carry a small notebook and pen with me to make notations of ideas, observations, memories, and whatever else I feel compelled to process through my alleged art. I’m pretty sure outsiders would have difficulty breaking my secret code.
(And let’s not forget Ashley’s website, jam-packed with portraits and other drawings, his portrait and art-rant blog, The Perps, his highly-affordable prints and books currently available, his eagerness for your portrait commission, and his contact email, email@example.com, where he longs to hear from you.)