A Zany Life · Writers Write

Primary Functions

I’m having trouble putting words on a page. When I don’t put words on a page, I become unbelievably hard to live with.  This isn’t something that started when I decided to write the Great American Novel.  It’s always been there.  


I’m a record keeper, a writer all my life. In the midst of my former career, when I didn’t put the words down first thing in the morning, I came unhinged.  Writing is breathing.  To appropriate Dylan Thomas, I do not go gentle into that good night. I thrash and poke until I provoke someone to poke back.  I’m not subtle.  When six-year-old Coco tells her sister, “Leave her alone.  She’s gotta write,” you sense the urgency in her voice. 


Weekends are terrible because my schedule is altered. On Monday, I’m desperate for language.  If I don’t get a Monday page count–don the asbestos suit ‘cause there’s gonna be a firestorm.  This was the case on Monday afternoon.  


Fortunately, my Bacon has known about this affliction for 40 years–Oy! that’s a lot of history between two people.  He sat, listened, and let me spew.  Then, he said something helpful like, “I had no idea it was so bad.” Which was great because he’s admitted that he’s oblivious to the fact that I’ve been folding socks and changing sheets and making dinner so well, he hasn’t noticed the alien beings protruding Sigourney Weaver-style from my midsection.

How to solve?  I wrote out of sequence on Tuesday.  I wrote badly, but I skipped to the chase.  In this case to the love scene, the chase scene is later. (I may resort to that today.)  I’m an extremely sequential thinker, but the neatness of my prearranged ideas must be flat-out rejected at times.  This was that time.  


In addition, if my brain isn’t occupied when I’m not writing, I obsess about what isn’t finished.  I’m not a good tv viewer. I can cope with some trash television on a limited basis. Lately, my thing has been CSI-Miami reruns.  I know at some point the blonde is going to shoot the gun and the slo-mo bullet will hit the target.  Predictability and limited dialog are assets. When I watch something with too much characterization, I end up writing like what I see. Face it, Grey’s Anatomy is already being done.  So…


I went to Target to buy a book. I rarely buy.  I can read a novel in roughly 3 hours.  It seems a waste of funds to buy first. If I like it, I go back and buy it.  On Tuesday morning, I wanted to treat myself, so I shopped the designer big box.  Unfortunately, the stock clerk at Target had fitness issues.  His midsection was so large he was in cardiac arrest every time he bent over to pick up a paperback. Listening to him breathe was too big a distraction. The deer-in-the-headlights store lost my business on Tuesday.  


I drove to the local library.  I’m a library expert. I know about Syndetics, and the card catalog on the web, and how to reserve the book for pickup at my local branch.  Today, however, I was desperate to browse.  IF I COULD ONLY FIND A PARKING PLACE!  Local libraries are civic buildings, and this is primary season.  Normally, that would mean nothing in Texas, but in the heart of Bush country, a fever has taken hold of the population. It’s called, early voting.


For the better part of a week, the two libraries closest to my home have been swamped with cars.  The back rooms hold voting machines, lines encircle the building, and election carnies are out front asking, “Are you Democrat or Republican?” 


“None of your damn business!”  I heard a 70 year old woman respond. 


People are pissed off, and Texans believe “it’s better be pissed off than pissed on.”*  No where is it more obvious than the local library.  It’s a phenomenon.  Texas is touting its place as the “decider.”  Leave it to us to contemplate one of the worst “because I told you so” answers in history.  Democracy is alive and well in Texas.  If you don’t believe me, just try to check out a library book.


I’m off to the chase.


*To avoid committing an Obama, this quote is attributed to Southwestern Oklahoma sage, Donna Brown.  

4 thoughts on “Primary Functions

  1. Thanks for the comment.

    I enjoyed reading your blog. You really captured Texas. I could see myself at our local library — and I suddenly remembered why I avoided it on civic duty days (as a library, that is). Thank you for the smile.

    Write on.


  2. Thanks for stopping by, Masha.

    I hope everyone clicks over to your website. All you lurkers, check out Masha Holl in the blogroll to the right.


  3. I, too, get more easily annoyed when I haven’t been writing lately. But that’s okay, because my husband has that same problem when he hasn’t been exercising, so we each encourage the other to pursue these interests. As for writing out of order, I do it all the time. I usually have a pretty good idea of where everything is going, and I hate the idea of squashing a good scene just because I haven’t gotten to it yet. And when I do finally get there, I’m glad to have it written already.


  4. It’s good to know what you need. I’m still working on the method thing. You are right about squashing the good scene. Next rough draft, I’m going to approach the whole thing like that. Thanks for stopping by Caryn!


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