The one that got away

December 3, 2020

I had an idea for a blog the other day. It arrived with the clarity and completeness that I’ve come to recognize as “serviceable.” That’s the midrange of the ideas that I get. There’s the ones that come with the blaze of divine inspiration and strike with the suddenness of an attack of sciatica. And there are also the ones that come with the unmistakable sound of the bottom of a barrel being scraped.

But this one was smack dab in the middle of both those extremes, and I was looking forward to hunting-and-pecking it out. Those divine inspiration ones write themselves in a white heat, and are so commanding they drive my hunting and pecking fingers almost to an arthritic distraction. Those bottom of the barrel ones, on the other hand, plod along like an over-packed mule on a mining trail, sentences hungering for the nourishment of an impact verb or thirsting for just one droplet of a clever turn of phrase. The divine inspiration ones don’t even require spellcheck, much less an all hands on deck edit. My pack mules arrive, however, lame, blind and starving, and all I can do is try and make it comfortable as it gasps its last before I hit “post.”

Writers like to refer to what they write as their “children.” If that’s legitimate, then I’m a terrible father. I never reread what I write the moment it is published.

Funny thing is, those who read the blogs appear to have a completely different categorization than mine. When I post the divine inspiration ones, for example, they tend to attract a range of responses from “meh” to “I’m not getting those three minutes back again.” Then my leaden, bottom of the barrel, dying pack mule shows up, and the comments sizzle with approbation and “laughing down the side of their legs.” (I might have exaggerated that last response slightly – or egregiously.) The ones in the middle I generally hear nothing at all about, and that suits me just fine.

Writers like to refer to what they write as their “children.” If that’s legitimate, then I’m a terrible father. I never reread what I write the moment it is published. All I will see is the misspellings I missed, but mostly the ideas I’d hoped to render more clearly and didn’t, and the turns of phrase that don’t ring as clever as when they made their first appearance in this world. As soon as I hit “post,” and these little rugrats arrive, I want nothing more to do with them. Put them in time out and take away their cellphones for all I care.

But I thoroughly enjoy the process of bringing them to life, much the way biological fathers enjoy their part in bringing real children into the world. As a writer, I can be the hound I sometimes wanted to be in real life. (The women in my life would have to change their undies at reading this.)         

About that “serviceable” idea I mentioned at the top of this. I do keep a notebook and pen near me at all times to jot these ideas down before they’re lost. I had a notebook and one beside me when this one fluttered by. I told myself, I got this, I don’t need to write it down. I failed to factor in my advancing age, and when it came time to write, I had no recollection of even what general area this “serviceable” idea was supposed to come from.

This blog is certainly not it.

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