Returning to the Empty Well

This morning, as I am sometimes wont to do, I wandered aimlessly through some of my old blog posts, looking for evidence of creativity and talent. “Looking” is the wrong word. “Hoping” better describes my motive. What I found did not convince me that a repository of ingenious originality hides among the multi-syllabic muck, but it gave me reason to think there’s reason to mine the blog as if there’s ore down there, somewhere.

One vignette, an unfinished piece of fiction, struck my fancy. It dealt with an old writer’s years-old fiction manuscripts that foretold in detail current events involving the international community’s response to North Korean nuclear saber-rattling.  A Russian scholar of Asia comes upon the manuscripts and, after reading them, concludes they tell  about not only current events but forecast an ugly, cataclysmic future. The unfinished vignette only suggests what happens next.

I wrote the piece long before the current dance with North Korea began under the narcissist’s regime. As I read it this morning, I decided it could easily be modified to mirror recent realities and, then, it could lead to “predictions” about where a battle between maniacal personalities might lead. “Easily modified” is another erroneous assertion. A writer would require both motivation and mental energy, neither of which are in oversupply in my head. But, maybe one day…

Another piece, an essay of sorts, caught my attention.  Most of the post, which addressed the failures of the left and right to behave in civil fashion, leaves something to be desired but one sentence grabbed me, for some reason: “We are the reverse side of the ugly mask, the underbelly of the darkest reptile, the snake poised in the grass, ready to strike at the slightest disturbance of the leaves.”  The post, entitled “Self-Congratulation,” attacks the leveling of blame against others for being uncivil while the accusers fail miserably to behave with civility.  In case the reader of today’s post don’t pick up on it, that old post was directed as much to myself as to anyone. The sentence that attracted my attention could be edited to serve as my obituary: “He was the reverse side of an ugly mask, the underbelly of the darkest reptile, the snake poised in the grass, ready to strike at the slightest disturbance of the leaves, which he took as a provocation directly aimed at him.” But let’s wait to publish that obit, shall we? Even old men can turn over a new leaf.

I haven’t completely abandoned my dream of going through all of my writing, aiming to create a cohesive collection. But the dream is now hazy and matted with dust. Yet when I spend a while rummaging through what I’ve written, I tend to brush the soot from the dream. On occasion, I seen tiny reflective glimmers beneath the grime. Those fleeting glints of light energize me. But the energy has not, thus far, been sufficient to spur me to action.

Though I haven’t quite unearthed it, I think there’s a common theme hidden in most of my writing. If I can determine just what that theme is, the motivation I need to wade through hundreds and hundreds (maybe even thousands) of pages may bubble to the surface. I suppose my fear is that there really isn’t a theme; that all of my writing is just mental spillage with nothing in common except that it poured out of the same demented brain. And it’s not just the ideas that need to be good to merit forming a collection. The quality of the writing has to stand up to scrutiny. Especially lately, the last two or three years or so, I haven’t paid any attention to the quality of what I’ve written. Instead, I’ve just allowed my fingers to unleash the chaos that flows from my brain without regard to the quality of the communication.

I realize, of course, that this post is simply a rearrangement of words that presents the same ideas I’ve uttered a thousand times. The ideas just won’t leave me alone. I keep returning, hoping to drink from a well I sense will remain empty. I keep hoping to write something new, but I can’t even finish writing or polishing or otherwise completing the old stuff. Oh, well. If nothing else, my constant harangues may eventually force me to either do something or sever my fingers to stop the repetition.

About John Swinburn

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