Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Short Story about Writing

A blank screen greets me at 8:20 in the morning. My kids and wife have left for school and work, so I have quiet. There are no excuses for not writing today. My wife calls me on the way to work to tell me a story. You might think it odd that she would call me just after leaving the house, but it's one of our favorite ways to communicate. The kids constantly compete for our attention, so one of the ways we get to talk is by phone to and from work. She tells the story but I'm not fully listening. "I thought you'd find this story funny," she says. Not long after we hang up, I send a text that says "Sorry I was out of it when we were on the phone. I'm trying to write and my mind is clogged." She's heard this before. I'm always carrying on about writing. I walk around with half-formed thoughts and sentences in my head. What is it that I want to say and how exactly do I want to say it? Write it down before you forget it!

I plug away, putting some words on the screen, word process them a bit, write some more, try to turn a clever phrase, listen to Courtney Barnett's newly released song for inspiration and distraction. I listen to it five times in a row and daydream about seeing her in concert. I write a little more and figure "hey if I write 300 words 10 days in a row that's 3000 words not bad." The words add up quick but the trick is to make them good words. I am always in pursuit of a good sentence. Words get deleted and pasted and rearranged and they're things I type between gulps of coffee. I read because reading and writing are a happy couple. So it's read a little bit, write a little bit, and 200 decent words have happened. Must be time for another break! I go to an Oreck vacuum store (don't ask) and I think I spent a few extra minutes there on purpose to avoid getting back to writing. I love writing but writing is a process and sometimes the process is painful. Then it's off to the grocery store because the grocery store is my second home and it's chicken on the grill tonight and it's time to get the marinade going.

Back home and back to writing. New example here. Deleted example there. Note to self here. Save the document obsessively even though it saves automatically and sits in a cloud safely. I look at the words--did I write that? Is this any good? How do I make it better? What's missing? What's the next sentence supposed to be? What's the next paragraph going to be? Write, read, edit, plan, write. Take a break to eat. E-mail. Make a list. Go for a walk because walking clears the mind and soothes the soul.

Feeling good after the walk, so I review the words again. Chop some. Add new ones. How do the words sound now? Hmmm, it's 1:39 p.m., maybe I should take a shower.

Out of the shower, proofread what I've been working on, back and forth between that document and this blog post. Why spend time on this blog when I could be concentrating on that other thing, you ask? Because these are a different kind of words. These words come easy. On this blog I get to play with words. I never want to lose the joy I find in writing.

Minimize one screen, focus on another. I look at my main writing of the day one more time. I managed 392 words. I think the words will do. That's all for today. Back at it tomorrow.

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