But since the banks I owe probably won’t show up, I will probably just be talked mean to, and given a repayment plan. At least the interest charges will stop. Most of what I owe is accumulated interest.
Today I needed some chocolate to make it through Valentine’s Day. Chocolate covered peanuts are perfect for diabetic depression. Chocolate to bring me up, and peanuts to help me not spike or drop in blood sugar levels. Depression and Valentine’s Day have always walked hand in hand in my recollection. Maybe it was the Valentine’s cards that we used as kids that did that to me. You know, the ones where your parents buy them in bulk, and after you pick that one for the special someone, you just put your classmate’s names on random cards from the pile for the rest. And then later that special someone gives you an obviously random card in return. Blues City!
I was, of course, a kid in the 60’s, in the Space Age of Mercury and Gemini Missions. Those were the cards I picked from for her.
But what kind of weird messages did the other random cards send? Some of them were absolutely bizarre.
What kind of love goes with socks with holes in them, and screwy boys with little pigs? No wonder so many of us grew up a bit demented.
And how is being eaten by a giant cat not traumatizing?
Some cards were inappropriate, and some were all wet. All of these are a bit perverted.
This one causes nightmares.
And boys should never have to get cards like these from a girl. Knives and forks and wieners? It makes me shudder just to look at them.
And what does love have to do with food? At least, anthropomorphic food? And food puns?
These are just scary and weird.
And there were Valentine’s cards that were right for me, but I didn’t want them. Enough eating of fuzzy worms on Valentine’s Day for me!
So it’s no wonder V-Day makes me blue. I was trained to it from an early age. Now, I just buy myself chocolate.
When I started this whole blogging-every-day thing, I decided the rule had to be 500 words written in a day. And I meant to hold myself to writing 500 words somewhere in the writing day, whether it was my blog post or the novel I was working on, or a combination of both. I followed that rule religiously through more than 1,500 blog posts and five first draft novels. I found it easier and easier to surpass 500 words on a daily basis. There are all sorts of bits of time available and I collect ideas faster than a rich kid generates empty candy wrappers. The more I call on the well of words for more words, the more words are available. Now, it seems, writing only 500 words is the trick.
I suppose I have become an Old Man of Words. I know both the rules and the exceptions.
Knowing that I can write more than 500 words easily, then the question becomes, why don’t I? Well, the cardinal rule is “Say it short. Say it simple. And say it sweet.” That rule can generate a lot of wonderful writing, full of juicy ideas that splash with flavor when you bite into them. Ernest Hemingway knew that rule. Every poet knows it. Readers generally prefer the easily accessible idea expressed with elegance.
Now, I also have to admit a guilty pleasure in perpetrating purple paisley prose. That is the style of writing in which I generally write convoluted sentences with complex ideas that fold back in on themselves and over-use alliteration to criminal degrees. Charles Dickens liked to do that with descriptive details. Paragraphs about the boarding schools of London, the streets filled with child chimney sweeps and flower girls, and dingy mind-dulling workhouses could take up two or three pages per paragraph. And two pages further on, he layers more details on the same setting. Piles and piles of words and wordplay fill the pages of William Faulkner, James Joyce, and Marcel Proust. And if you haven’t read at least something from each of those gentlemen, you will never know what you are missing. But you can prune your paragraphs like a greenhouse master florist with limited space will do to his orchids, and you can actually end up fitting great beauty and powerful content into something even more limited than a 500-word essay. In fact, if you take your ideas and distill them, and keep distilling them, over and over, you will eventually have pared the words down into poetry.
So, there you have it. The reason my essays are about 500 words. This one is four hundred and forty one words.
I don’t have writer’s block. I can write as long as I can think and move my fingers on the keyboard to crystallize that thinking into words. The Pink and White Mercury of Imagination is always moving, either driving forward in the present and towards the future, or in reverse, rewriting the past. It is never parked.
But somewhere along the way today, the route got sidetracked onto a looping detour.
Hence, this car-themed drive through the idea-capturing process.
I started reading a new novel. It is a 500-plus-pager by Kate Morton called Distant Hours. It is a Gothic novel, but in a very different way from the one I am writing in The Baby Werewolf. That book starts as a first person narrative, and then flashes back to the past as a series of third person narratives focused on single characters per section. My novel is a first person narrative throughout, though told by three different narrators. It would make an interesting writing analysis post, but I haven’t read enough of that novel nor completed mine to a point where I can compare and contrast them. And those of you who get bored easily have already tuned out and just looked at the pictures by this point.
I also thought about writing a post about Uber-driving conversations and how that impacts the quality of my driver-service. But the best stuff there can’t be revealed without breaking confidences. Doctors, lawyers, bartenders, and Uber drivers are tasked with providing a touch of confidentiality.
I wanted to complain more about Trump and evil Republicans. But that gets far too tiring. And if the collection of my posts on WordPress is like a flower garden, the political rants I do are definitely the garden-choking weeds.
A much better thing for my garden is to chase the flitting butterflies of near-perfect ideas with a butterfly net made of idea lists like this particular post.
So, it is true that I never actually have writer’s block. I do get writer’s detours, writer’s delays, and writer’s just-not-satisfieds- with-those-ideas sorts of things. But not today. I made the problems the topic and the topic wrote itself.
I do write poetry. But I must admit, I am not a serious poet. I am a humorist at heart, so I tend to write only goofy non-serious poems like this one;
So here is a poem that rhymes but has too much “but-but-but” in it. A poem about pants should not have too many “buts” in it. One butt per pair, please. So this is an example of spectacularly bad poetry. Why do we need bad poetry? Because it’s funny. And it serves as a contrast to the best that poetry has to offer.
As a teacher I remember requiring students to memorize and recite Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”. Now this sort of assignment is a rich source of humorous stories for another day. Kids struggle to memorize things. Kids hate to get up in front of the class and speak with everybody looking at them. You get a sort of ant-under-a- magnifying-glass-in-the-sun sort of effect. But in order to truly get the assignment right and get the A+, you have to make that poem your own. You have to live it, understand it, and when you reach that fork in the road in your own personal yellow wood, you have to understand what Frost was saying in that moment. That is the life experience poetry has a responsibility to give you.
Hopefully I gave that experience to at least a few of my students.
Bad poetry makes you more willing to twirl your fingers of understanding in the fine strands of good poetry’s hair. (Please excuse that horrible metaphor. I do write bad poetry, after all.)
But all poetry is the same thing. Poetry is “the shortest, clearest, best way to see and touch the honest bones of the universe through the use of words.” And I know that definition is really bad. But it wasn’t written on this planet. (Danged old Space Goons!) Still, knowing that poetry comes from such a fundamental place in your heart, you realize that even bad poetry has value. So, I will continue writing seriously bad poetry in the funniest way possible. And all of you real poets who happen to read this, take heart, I am making your poetry look better by comparison.
Family flu weeks make it difficult to think and difficult to write. But I am a writer. I believe I remember that clearly. In fact, one could argue that I am a published author. I found this pile of books laying around in my sick room that may actually count as evidence. But it’s hard to think. It’s hard to write. I have been working on gingerbread writing. At least, I still have the recipes in my stupid old aching head.
These two gingerbread novels are nearing completion. I mean, I have written the entire second draft of Recipes, and I am closing in on the end of the final draft of Baby Werewolf. They are two interlaced novels, each with a different focus, and each with a different style, one a humorous Gothic horror story, the other a fairy tale with Nazis and naked girls in it. But both happen at the same time to basically the same characters, though the shared scenes have to be reinterpreted through different viewpoints in each book. See, now, that’s entirely too complicated to think about with a headache.
But I am temporarily fritzed out in the brain department. I don’t even know how I am writing this. I guess the autopilot is driving the word-mincing machine.
So I will hopefully be writing more coherently and publishing more books in the near future. But for now, we are ill. I don’t have a fever, yet. But they do. And I need a bit of rest.