Writing Turns Me On
“I made a deal with my muse. I leave her alone and she leaves me alone.”
– poet and author Wendell Berry on the Diane Rehm Show today
Writing turns me on.
No, not like that you perve. Okay, maybe I should restate that.
I have a writing switch that I turn On and Off. When it’s on I search for narrative threads. I scan for details. I probe. When it’s off I just kind of fumble through life a victim of my scattered brain. It would be great if I could just leave the switch on and suck all the meaning I could out of a trip to the grocery, but that would be exhausting.
I would lean over the food conveyor thingy and stretch to see the checkout lady’s shoes. You can tell a lot from shoes. I would ask the bag boy what exactly his thought process was behind the Tattoo that reads “Serial Killer” on his forearm. I wound engage the bag boy: “Is this your way to tell people that you aren’t a serial killer? After all, no self-respecting serial killer would advertise it to the world. Or is this some type of double reverse logic psych out that ends with you stuffing unsuspecting patrons into their trunks?”
When I’m ON I constantly engage my environment. I go into social butterfly mode. And there’s only so much of that that I can take. Heck, there’s only so much of that the world can take.
I think that’s what Berry meant.
Then there’s the prednisone switch. It’s great stuff for getting asthmatic lungs to stop hyper-reacting, but it takes a writer and turns all the writer’s sentences into six-thousand non sequitur ramblings written at 3:30 in the morning. I once wrote a short story that was fine once the first paragraph got sorted into four and the first sentence got chopped into three. Something like … Hey, what time is it anyway? Heck, there’s only so much Kelsey can take.