I sit before a blank screen, imagining it taunts me to cover it with words.
The monitor doesn’t care if I write today or not. There is no victor, no vanquished, no competition between us at all, but I like to imagine there is.
It’s perverse, but I like the idea that this is a duel, the monitor and I. It challenges me to create something worth reading, but also expects me to fail.
Is this the time I reach for the stars and come back with nothing but dust and ashes in my hands?
I never really know.
When I sit down, I’ve usually got something in mind. A fun experience I want to share or an idea to explore.
Whatever it may be, the whatever it is isn’t the real point. The point is to get into the feelings behind whatever it is and share those. If I was pissed, if I was enthusiastic, giddy or irritable or dumbstruck with wonder, sharing those sensations is what I think the point is.
The challenge is to find the right words to make it live and sing, whatever it is, even if it’s a story of elves and dwarves in a faraway land of neverwas. Especially if it is something from the land of neverwas.
Ah, the words. I hope we meet again, my arch-nemeses.
I sit before the monitor each day, preparing myself for battle.
Sometimes I flail around like an idiot, grasping for a sentence, hoping something coherent will stick to my fingers.
Other times, the words are ready and waiting to gang up on me, and by God I’d better start typing because they’re coming out whether I like it or not, and if I can’t keep up, they’re in one side and out the other, gone never to return in the same way.
The worst times are when I’m in the shower, and an entire conversation runs through my head, a brilliant conversation or idea, concepts and wordplay that make me grin and then laugh out loud. But I’m nowhere near a pen or keyboard, and no matter how hard I try to hold on to them, the words wash away, leaving only the outline of their meaning behind as a poor substitute for the real thing.
When the words aren’t there ready to bum rush my butt, where do I go to find them? Where do I reach when I seek the words to express the crap I’m trying to say?
I could hand you a slick analogy to represent some personal inner search for the ‘real me’, like digging for words from a shaft drilled deep inside my heart. I could if I was a pretentious twit, anyway.
The reality is, wherever the words come from, it is a place without a map or compass to guide my way, and the best I can ever hope for each time I try is that whatever words come to me, they come close to what I want.
I hope to grasp the words that will give perfect shape to what I feel, to bring back a true name. I hope.
I get what I get.
I never know what I’ll get. Each time, it’s as much a mystery to me as to anyone else.
If there is a fear while I’m pounding the keyboard, it’s that the desire to put words to paper will lead me to skim the slender surface of my thoughts, just to get something, anything down and published, when what I really want is to dig deep and find something juicy, something personal, something hidden below the surface that will resonate as REAL.
I don’t know that I ever succeed. Sometimes, I walk away pleased with what I’ve written, another post glowing like a torch on the screen behind me. Victory! Second thoughts may creep in later, but screw that, publish or perish and hell take the hindmost.
It may not win any awards, but it’s not about awards. It’s about walking away with the satisfaction of knowing that for this one day, this one time, I found the words to express what I hoped to share.
Just to feel that sensation once, I can’t begin to describe it. To have written something that shared what I wanted to say. Is it any wonder that, once having felt that, I return again and again?
Other times, well, not so much. I reach in vain, but the words just aren’t there. What I draw back to the screen is a pale shadow of what I hoped to share, clumsy, inadequate… stupid. Embarassing.
I’ll spend some time thinking about it, circling the words, walking around them, examining them… putting a white hot spotlight of inquisition on them. “Why are you so fail? What did you do with the words I was looking for? Answer me!”
Often, I’ll come back later with a different perspective, a different group of words. Commando words storming the slackers. More expressive words. More concise. Still me, just… different.
At the end of the day, though, once I have done my best to get the ideas and feelings and intent on the screen, whether I think it sucks or not…
I hit publish anyway.
The words last but a day in memory, and then they fall behind. There will always be another time.
There will always be another chance.
There will always be tomorrow.
What matters is, I sat down before a blank screen to do battle with myself, I reached out for the words to share something real, and took a good, close look at what I caught. Maybe this time I’m happy, maybe this time I’m not, but it’s always different, always new, and if I’m really damn lucky, I’ll learn something to take with me for next time.