It’s Only Just Syllables

Yesterday’s fierce rains, still continuing but to a much lesser extent, have filled lakes, reservoirs, and roadways. The police and sheriff’s departments have issued warning about inundated roadways and impassable streets. Some water crossing roads may conceal wash-outs. The bottom line is this: it’s wet. Wet. WET! As I gaze out my window, I see fog. Or perhaps I see clouds. We often find ourselves inside the cloud layer hugging the higher ridges.

Aside from the gloom outside my window, what’s on my mind that prompts me to sit at the keyboard? Nothing, really. I just feel compelled to write something lest I lose my ability to think through my fingers. I’ve written far too little of late. I’ve ignored my “novel,” that thing that I hoped would snowball into a whirlwind of writing. I think the reason I’m ignoring it is that it’s plot driven. I’ve never been one to write plot-driven stuff, yet that’s what I picked as a major writing project. What I’ve written so far seems dull and lifeless. The people are wooden, two-dimensional, uninteresting. They’re not people I’d be particularly interested in knowing. I don’t like their jobs, their way of thinking about the world…I don’t even like the way they look. The only thing about them I find appealing is that they are all subject to my whims and that I could, if I wished, have them annihilated in a nuclear blast, a very real possibility given the plot that’s developed thus far. Like all my writing, the story developing in the novel goes in too many directions, none with a destination in mind. Maybe I should ditch the effort and return to focus on what I prefer doing, developing complex, troubled characters who mirror the man creating them.

Or, perhaps what I really need to do is get active. Not like jogging, but like fixing leaky faucets and showers, making and installing garage shelving, clearing out tiny pine trees growing behind the house, and installing the toilet I bought months ago when we replaced the one in the master bath (they both needed replacing, but the one in the master was in more serious and immediate need). I think I must be lazy. Actually, it’s not that. It’s that I’m no longer as willing to take risks with home repairs as I once was. The reason, I think, is that my wife gets nervous when I start talking about doing something, like she has no confidence that I can actually get it done. I don’t know why that is. In our first house, I built in a desk, then covered it with laminate that looked like cherry wood. That was a big job and I did it well, if I say so myself. And I built a workbench in the garage and installed fluorescent lighting about it. And I built a deck. I’ve replaced all sorts of broken parts of faucets, heaters, etc., etc. Yet she gets nervous when I talk about doing work myself. She’d rather we hire it out, paying exorbitant amounts to people who, I am convinced, simply use us as opportunities to learn how to do what we’re asking them to do.

Oh, maybe what I should do instead of writing or getting active around the house is to complain! Yes, that’s it! I do that so damn well. But you can never get enough practice. It pays to sharpen one’s skills by exercising them.

No, that’s annoying to others (are you with me?) and tends to make one’s thoughts get shrill and reedy. I envision my mind developing an underbrush of thin, brittle grasses that make high-pitched noises as the wind whistles between the empty spaces between ideas. If I were taller, the wind would make an even higher-pitched sound; but I’m short, so the sound is muted and slightly bass, if that’s even possible for a high-pitched noise.

Today, I will take no irrevocable action. I will do nothing that can’t be undone. Except this. I can’t undo the writing I’ve done, as much as I might wish I could. And I can’t unbreathe the breaths I’ve taken. So, I end this stream-of-consciousness blather with the admission that I’ve lied, even to myself, about what I will not do. That, in itself, is an assertion of what I will do, isn’t it? And that’s what’s wrong with the way this day has started.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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