Something new… I need to write something new. I can’t imagine what. A story, an amusing anecdote, maybe a philosophical premise - I don’t know. Life has been good, but in something of a holding pattern of late. Time is passing and with the passing of time some forecasted events are approaching, but right now it’s just niggling little things that I really, really don’t want to do. Yet, somehow they are getting done. My laundry is almost all clean and put away. The dishes are mostly all clean and out of the dishwasher. The bills are paid and there is gas in the car. Yet… I feel somehow ineffective, like I am neglecting something.
“You know what that feeling of impending doom is?” A man far wiser than I once asked. “It’s impending doom, stupid!” He was talking about instinct; about intuition; about gut feelings. For me, it often means that I need to write something and I don’t usually know what it will be until I see it before my eyes. Stephen King wrote that writers don’t create their stories, they discover them. It is an interesting angle and one that works for me. He likened it to the archeologist who is digging up fossils. Once discovered, care must be taken in excavating them. Too much haste will produce an incomplete or fragmented artifact while carefully bushing away the soil will reveal a complete and beautiful specimen.
And Michelangelo felt the same way when working with a block of marble. It is reported that he “saw” the figure in the stone and merely uncovered it with his chisel. Could it be the same process with writing? Is it that the themes and the thoughts and the stories have existed all along only waiting to be tripped over by a literary explorer? Do we create our worlds or navigate them? There are instances, many, many instances when I know I have taken a wrong turn; when I will select and delete many words, complete sentences and in some cases, entire documents. I have taken a wrong turn. Often I will know it immediately - it just doesn’t feel right - but sometimes the path has been cleverly disguised that I won’t realize it until many miles have been traveled.
“You know what that feeling of impending doom is?”
It is difficult to turn back after so much has been committed, but if the words lead to a dead-end, there is little choice. Vision is not always prospective and sometimes the forest can only be seen through the trees in retrospect. I think fast and I write slowly. I never learned how to type and I don’t intend to. It has served to slow my thinking down and in a very real sense it gives me the vision that helps keep me on course. Mostly. There is a downside, however. If I don’t get the thought out, I risk losing it… maybe forever, maybe not, I can never really know. Was it that elusive fossil that I have been searching for or just another piece of petrified wood? Often the answer can only come from running headlong into a dead-end, writing wildly scattered thoughts as fast as my two fingers can carry me.
Joan Dideon reveals that she never learned grammar. She just knows what sounds right. Jimi Hendrix never learned to read music, but he too knew what sounded right. It’s about how it all fits together. It has to make sense. Translating the thoughts in my head into words clarifies them not only for you, but for me as well. It takes the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle floating around in space and assembles them into a mosaic that can be viewed in total - perhaps even understood. It intimately links the reader with the writer, crossing the barriers of time and space. We become, for a brief instance, one.