On Words

The Spark of Life
The Spark of Life
I find myself struggling daily to find words enough to scribe across the blank screen, a struggle, I’m positive I share with many. This whether it be for blogging, articles or the great novel screaming to find its way into the light from the cavernous depths of thought. (Wasn’t it Michelangelo Buonarroti who claimed that art already exists, it simply awaits the right strokes to free it?) Yet, there are those who seem positively and unendingly inspired, who simply sit at the keyboard and the instant fingers make contact, the words, sentences, profound and provocative ideas stream onto the page. Their strokes seem to have discovered with ease, the art of expression.

How does one find topics to write about? It’s not that each and every one of us isn’t creative, thoughtful, original. We are. I suspect it has more to do with inhibitions and self-consciousness than lack of ideas. You wake up in the morning, ideas, words, entire stories spilling out with each step, attending you like a faithful servant, anxiously waiting your next command, but suddenly vacating the premise, abandoning you to manage on your own just when you need help and support the most.

Frequently one sees the debate put forth that pen and paper are less an impediment to getting those words and thoughts into some sense of cohesiveness, than keyboard and virtual notepad. Yet I find, when the moment is hot and steamy, the keyboard is ever so much faster. Clumsy fingers, clogged pen and — where has my notebook gone? — the very idea of writing become a shoe trapped by a quagmire of mud, impeding the flow or words into sentences, into paragraphs, into — ‘my god, did I just write that exquisite sentence?’

But that’s just it isn’t it? The previous paragraph digresses from the topic, the struggle to write. I read yesterday something about finding your ‘ideal reader’. The analogy was used that when one writes letters or emails to a friend or loved one, the inhibitions fall away, the words, the expressions fly across the pages, sorting themselves into meaning, humour or the next quotable phrase. The idea is that whenever we write, we should do so for that perfect reader, the one who has been defined by age, by gender, interests, intelligence or colour of eyes. It probably works, I know it works, as proved to myself just this very morning. I’ve answered a dozen emails without thought, a quick glance to structure, eliminating those embarrassing spelling mistakes and typos and hurling them through the aethers at a single keystroke, confident in the knowledge that the recipients will not only read what I have written, but enjoy it and most probably reply. Yet here, when I must write something of importance, something of permanence, I find I pause. How do I express what I want to say? Will others understand, will they agree, will they continue to read to the end or throw the thing out in disgust or boredom and anger?

I could write about bees, and how we depend upon these tiny creatures for our survival. But then, I’m not a beekeeper, nor a scientist who would know all the facts. I could write about the all the people who have returned this past holiday weekend to their cottages, but what do I know about their lives, their loves, their health or income or conflicts. Which one hates his boss? Who amongst them is cheating on a spouse, awaiting a new child, struggling with a tooth ache, or planning his next assassination? Perhaps I should involve myself in some philosophy or another. How did the ancients view their world? Should we continue to pray even if we discover suddenly that God is dead? Or, perhaps I will deny all that I sense, for it is deception you see, it is the dream world that discovered the universe, prescribed its elements and invented the concept of humanity.

I’ve struggle over the words above, hesitating before the next phrase, deleting this, re-writing that, tinkering, doodling, making coffee, anything to avoid the commitment. Posting the final creation seems so permanent — oh dear, what if somebody, ideal reader or not, reads this and makes judgement? I think now, I shall put down my virtual pen, allow my thoughts to wander into worlds of fantasy, of fact, of tragedy and comedy, and await the next great spark of inspiration.