the writing process

7:20 p.m.: shh. i’m writing right now.

well, of course i am. otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?

naturally. no. what i mean is, i am writing a legitimate piece meant for publication. once a month i am a columnist. that once happens to be now, and thusly i am writing.

so far i have typed several words into an e-mail to myself, so i can genuinely say i’m working on it. which i am. but the writing process is not necessarily so straightforward as to say, “now, authoress, sit ye down and write ye thine column.” it’s more of an oh! idea! moment, followed by a lot of staring at a blank screen, trying to figure out how to order those first few magic words.

but after they’ve arranged themselves to my liking, i drift off again and poke around on the internet. hmm, this blog looks interesting … oh, yeah, i need to know how to cook that quince … wait — is SOMETHING CRUNCHING OUTSIDE MY WINDOW???

oh right then, it went away.

you see?

8:19 p.m.: my dove promises chocolate wrapper tells me that “your smile is your best accessory.” while that might be true, couldn’t they could up with something a little less trite-sounding? oh how i loathe insincere-sounding compliments. that’s what makes buying greeting cards so difficult. which is why i end up buying five instead of one.

yes, i’m still writing. i have made more words and put them on the page. i promise. i am not merely talking about math on facebook and wondering why sara lee now has a line of deli lunch meat.

8:33 p.m.: about halfway there. discussions in other realms have veered into t.s. eliot. i have five tabs open in my internet browser in addition to this one and the one where i’m committing my legitimate writings. they are facebook; a video on arm and wrist stretches; simply recipes‘ entry for quince; now, voyager; and design*sponge. i always want to spell “sponge” as “spongue.”

the second dove promise is starting to sound pretty good. even if it does have only a trite saying inside. chocolate is chocolate.

8:52 p.m.: second promise says “you’re invited to relax today.” why thank you. i am.

the first of t.s. eliot’s four quartets is called “burnt norton.”

there’s a train whistling somewhere off in the distance.

9:20 p.m.: done!

if i hate sappy endings, why do i write them?

oh well. all’s well that ends, right?

: )

i would like to thank mr. g.k. chesterton for inspiring this post, as he inspires so many things in my life. yesterday, i think, while eating lunch i read his essay “on lying in bed” from the collection tremendous trifles. chesterton was also a columnist, and he was blessed with the seeming ability to write about whatsoever tickled his fancy. he has some very insightful things to say in this essay about morals versus habits and what priority should be placed on which:

it is the great peril of our society that all its mechanism may grow more fixed while its spirit grows more fickle. a man’s minor actions and arrangements ought to be free, flexible, creative; the things that should be unchangeable are his principles, his ideals. but with us the reverse is true; our views change constantly; but our lunch does not change. … this alarming growth of good habits really means a too great emphasis on those virtues which mere custom can misuse, it means too little emphasis on those virtues which custom can never quite ensure, sudden and splendid virtues of inspired pity or of inspired candour. if ever that abrupt appeal is made to us we may fail. a man can get used to getting up at five o’clock in the morning. a man cannot very well get used to being burnt for his opinions; the first experiment is commonly fatal. let us pay a little more attention to these possibilities of the heroic and the unexpected. i daresay that when i get out of this bed i shall do some deed of an almost terrible virtue.

“for those who study the great art of lying in bed there is one emphatic caution to be added. even for those who can do their work in bed (like journalists), still more for those whose work cannot be done in bed (as, for example, the professional harpooner of whales), it is obvious that the indulgence must be very occasional. but that is not the caution i mean. the caution is this: if you do lie in bed, be sure you do it without any reason or justification at all. i do not speak, of course, of the seriously sick. but if a healthy man lies in bed, let him do it without a rag of excuse; then he will get up a healthy man. if he does it for some secondary hygienic reason, if he has some scientific explanation, he may get up a hypochondriac.”

dear God, does this man have any great-great grandsons?