Writing daily and mostly in my head

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I WRITE, therefore I am.

I write, therefore I must.

Esse est percipi.

Or something like that.

Now and then, someone will ask:

When do you write?

Where do you write?

How do you write?

Answers:

All the time.

Everywhere.

Beats me.

I write mostly in my head.

Roger Summers
Roger Summers

Maybe I will be at my favorite coffee shop, having a breakfast taco, reading my three newspapers.

Maybe a certain article will catch my eye.

Or a paragraph.

Or a sentence.

Or just one word.

Or maybe an idea will come from what is not in what I am reading.

What is missing.

Why the omission?

Enter my imagination.

My galloping, runaway imagination.

Mixed, maybe, with sights and sounds and memories and events and people, some with gumption and some without, and notions gathered in a half century or so in the newspaper business – my adult lifetime continuing education.

Lucky me.

The words will begin to write themselves.

In my head.

I hurriedly drive home, quickly empty the words from my anxious noggin – lest I forget them — down through my fingers, through the keyboard, into my computer.

There the words will stay a spell.

Cook.

Maybe for hours.

Days.

Weeks.

Months.

Even years.

Maybe forever, in a case or two.

Some I eventually send out into the world to see if anyone salutes them.

Some may never see the light of day.

One example of the latter:

In the 70s, I took a month off, rented a mountain cabin that had a pleasant little stream flowing in front of it, hid out there writing the Great American Novel (henceforth referred to as GAN). Set up a table for a desk on the front porch. Had an electric typewriter. Used a long, long extension cord to plug it into a kitchen outlet.

Sat in a folding, metal chair.

The words flowed. Page after page. I placed them in a metal cake pan beside the electric typewriter.

GAN, here I come.

Fast as I can!

Fast as I can!

Wait for me!

Wait for me!

GAN is on its way!

Just words away!

One afternoon, one of those mountain showers blew in, which was not uncommon.

But this one was different. It came with a determined vengeance. It was followed by a fierce electrical storm.

If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was GPS-tracking me. But those were pre-GPS days.

I ignored it. Stayed busy at the electric typewriter.

Sitting in the folding, metal chair.

Tap, tap, tap.

Tap, tap, tap.

There beside the metal cake pan. The stack of typed pages grew taller and taller.

GAN waits for no storm.

Or does it?

A gigantic, fiery bolt of lightning begged to differ.

Ka-rooooooom!

Ka-boooooom!

It zipped, sizzled downward from the growling, now-bruised, darkening sky.

Could have sworn it zipped through the electric typewriter, sideswiped the cake pan that held the typed GAN pages.

Fortunately it didn’t. Only seemed that way.

Could have sworn I tingled from head to toe.

I froze.

Later, as I began to thaw – well, relax — I started to laugh.

I thought:

That surprise bolt, jolt of lightning could have fried my electric typewriter.

Fried all those GAN pages.

Fried the cabin.

Fried me.

Left little besides a bit of smoldering evidence of what had been there.

Made the GAN disappear forever.

Never to be known.

Never to be seen.

Never to be read.

Which, come to think of it, hasn’t been. Except by me.

I came home, stuck GAN in a desk drawer.

There it remains.

Every great once in a while, I get it out, look it over.

Re-live those writing days there on that front porch of that mountain cabin with the pleasant little stream flowing in front of it.

Get a reminder of where I started.

See how far I maybe have come.

Or haven’t.

Look at how the pages have yellowed.

Wonder if those really are scorch marks along the edges.

Or just some of the aging marks of time.

Consider what events and circumstances and thoughts and experiences and electrifying bolts and jolts of life have colored my writings in all of those intervening years.

Look, reflect, then return GAN to its hidden place of decades, there in the desk drawer.

And then write on.

Write on.

Write on.

I write, therefore I am.

I write, therefore I must.

Roger Summers is a journalist, essayist and author of Heart Songs From A Washboard Road.

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