Writing in My Head

I once read that when John Irving writes a novel, he puts the final sentence down, and then without changing a word or punctuation mark, he goes about creating a novel underneath that sentence. That my friends is pretty intimidating.  Irving is one of my favorite authors, and after reading one of his books, I typically smash all my pencils: there is no point in my putting a single word to page.

All this would be fine, except my brain keeps flooding me with snapshots of my life from whippersnapper days to the present, and this happens particularly when I’m trying to sleep. As I struggle with sleep, maybe after a brief pause to the bathroom, I return to the bed and I may have a huge smile on my face. Sandy asks, “Are you OK?”  To which I will respond, “It’s nothing, I’m just writing in my head.” Said without having to elaborate that I have just uncovered a hysterical word to use in a sentence. Then again, the smile could have indicated that I just peed in my boxer shorts.

I don’t think there is a piece I have written these many years, that did not have an important shakedown cruise as I waited for sleep to take me away. I love words. No other language can challenge the breadth and depth of the English word stock. There is such a rich texture in adjectives. Nouns, funny names.  I love putting words together. I love the turn of a phrase. There has to be a flow, words must follow a speaking rhythm.  It’s the way a joke unfolds.  Timing is critical.  And there has to be a consistency to the voice.  You have to hear me.  I aim for that… for you to say, “that’s Jim.”

And there at night. 2:00am, or such, I’m trying to find a way to convey the pace of the story in my head (with an improved word or two) onto the page.  It should be noted that at this point I have not written a word on paper, or on my laptop.  In fact, I just may have a subject line, “13 Beers on the Merritt” (for those interested, this is the link to that flight of fantasy http://summerofjim.com/?p=38) .

It’s nice to receive a compliment for something that I have written.  I don’t aspire to be a writer.  I do tell  a good joke, and on many occasions, an exceptional joke. Like, maybe exceptional times ten.   And simply put, my pen just follows the thoughts and scenes that inhabit my mind.

Here’s a topic for future consideration: “Colonoscopy Was First Introduced During the Spanish Inquisition.”

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