Day 17: Perpetual writing

I never quite know when I’m not writing. Sometimes my wife comes up to me at a party and says, “Damnit, Thurber, stop writing.” She usually catches me in the middle of a paragraph. Or my daughter will look up from the dinner table and ask, “Is he sick?” “No,” my wife says, “he’s writing something.” ~ (James Thurber, in an interview with George Plimpton and Max Steele. Paris Review, Fall 1955)

Surrounded by crucifers, I calculated the odds that today’s cauliflower would make it to the dinner table rather than mummify in that mausoleum otherwise known as the vegetable crisper.

Candy to left of me, Cosmo to right, I pondered twenty-seven ways to lose fifty pounds by Thanksgiving and ninety-two prescriptions for gaining it back.

Crossing the parking lot, I put in a grocery store between the hair salon and the antique shop.

Then I hired a manager.

Joelle currently does cuts and perms–she was Margaret, the assistant postmaster, before youthening and changing her name and her career–but she could operate the grocery, which carries better stock than the Abomination out on the highway. And her husband, Scott, could take over when he retires.

I don’t know when Scott will retire. I’m not even sure his name is Scott. He used to be Herb, the postmaster. He took that job just before Margaret turned into Joelle. But he’s awfully straight-laced, and Scott suggests a certain amount of elasticity…

Grocery shopping isn’t the only endeavor that detours into writing. Sometimes I’m in the shower. Sometimes I’m driving to an appointment.

In the middle of a romantic birthday dinner at the Clay Pit, I erupted: “Ooh! I just thought of somebody else I can kill!”

That’s not the way to win friends and influence people, especially if you’re seated in the little room downstairs, where voices ricochet off stone  and land in the neighbors’ chicken korma.

No matter. People look at me funny, and they think I’m scatterbrained, and rude, and some no doubt think I’m criminal.

But there is one advantage to this perpetual writing, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Ever since fifth grade, when I heard a high school prose reading contestant perform “The Night the Bed Fell,” I’ve aspired to write like James Thurber.

And now, if I think about it in just the right way, I can say that I do.

6 thoughts on “Day 17: Perpetual writing

  1. That’s how the eureka moments happen, isn’t it? I love that theory that you can just post something into your subconscious mind and let it whirr away sorting the problem out until it spits out a solution at the end. Rather like a dishwasher. I think words are just clothes for our thoughts, and thoughts are always there in the background, like the plot of Spooks the day after.

    Sorry, rambling day today. I need a pensieve.


    1. “Words are just clothes for our thoughts.” I like that. Very much.

      So books and blog posts are already in our heads, and all we have to do is relax and whirr and wait for them to get dressed? I’m convinced that music, some of it anyway, is already out there somewhere and composers just reach up and pull it down to paper. Puccini, anyway. Some of his melodies seem inevitable.

      My best (and most radical) decisions have been made suddenly, after a period of whirring. It looks and sometimes feels as if I’m acting on impulse, and I can’t explain the reasons for the decisions, but so far they’ve all worked out.

      Thank you for using pensieve. I had to look it up. It’s a wonderful invention, and I wish it were available for purchase locally. (I have the books, but I haven’t read all [most] of them.)


  2. You speak for all writing addicts. We say our addiction is harmless, uplifting, good for our health, even uplifting for readers. Are we in denial? No. I’m floating in d’Nile. On a raft. With journal and pen.

    My six-word memoir: I live to write about life.


    1. A raft in d’Nile with a journal and pen sounds so good. If I must have an addiction, and I appear to need one, writing is the one I choose.

      I like your six-word memoir. It’s very fitting.

      I wonder what mine should be.


  3. I love this post! I am happy to learn that I am not the only one who is writing while I am doing seemingly ordinary things like washing dishes or taking a shower!


    1. You certainly aren’t. What I find devastating is that my best epiphanies occur when I’m scrubbing something. You’d think this would lead to more scrubbing, but alas…

      By the way, I love your new venue. It’s so attractive, and having everything consolidated is such a good idea. (And I will change your address on my blogroll.)


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