Monday, June 28, 2010
Is Writing Dangerous to Your Health?
Do you ever think too much about writing, about your stories? Do you ever forget what you’re doing and become lost in your imaginary world? Are you ever driving a car and forget where you are going and that YOU are the one at the wheel? Is thinking about scenes while driving as dangerous as texting while driving?
I have to be careful and not read Jenny’s Saturday Centus until after I have been for groceries or made a dash to the farmer’s market. Because if I am not careful, I am pinching the rutabagas while looking for the right word to describe the moment of passionate embrace and moaning in vicarious pleasure while iother shoppers look on. Or I plan some murderous deed, gripping the van steering wheel in a death grip, and do not realize the bumper up ahead is just that-- a mere bumper and not a target to annihilate.
I remember reading that May Sarton often left a poem on her desk unfinished for months at a time while looking for the right word. Sometimes I wiggle sentences and juggle words in my poems too. I know the poem is almost stand alone but has some ragged edges yet. I realize that something needs to be honed a bit, sharpened like a kitchen knife that cuts a banana but won’t slice a tomato clean and precise. So I mull over words, sticking them in and taking them out, trying to find just the right one. It is like having a ring of keys in your hand and knowing one will fit the lock if you can just find it.
Teachers are multi-taskers and women are jugglers, always having several balls in the air at once. So I often tried doing household tasks between running trips to the computer. Put a load of laundry in, write a line; brown those chops, stick them in the oven, and return to writing a love scene; dash off two more paragraphs and then remake the bed with clean linens. It usually works well but can lead to disaster. I was writing one day when sounds of gunfire echoed through the house. I thought, “Oh, the dastardly criminals are loose again.” But wait a minute, there are no guns in my story! Bam, another pop and then I sniffed a sulfur smell. Eggs! I was boiling eggs!
I went to the kitchen to find the eggs had boiled dry of any water, gotten hotter and hotter with no attention, and were in the process of exploding all over my kitchen. Yes, I had set a timer, but its gentle ding was lost somewhere in the 1800’s as pioneer woman tried to parley with a Comanche for the safety of her daughter.
A cell phone can be put in my purse; a computer can be put in sleep mode. But my mind, what there is left of it, is hard to turn off. It races on all the time, getting nowhere really. So if you hear of a hit and run accident on your police scanner, it might be me tooling down the street thinking the fender I just hit was a log in river while I was padding for Lewis and Clark. Then again, I have been known to step off the curb in front of traffic while my head was in the clouds. Writing can be hazardous to my heath!