Sometimes I think words are like teenagers, or worse, like how I was when I was a teenager. Just when you start to think they’re developing some small measure of sense, they go crazy on you.
And the thing about it is, you have no idea what just happened. Everything was going along just fine, the teachers had taken you off their hit list, as had the rest of the parents in the neighborhood who now felt it was once again safe to allow their children to play in the streets without fear. All was well.
But then along came that day. There was always that day…
Same thing with words. I’m serious. There will be days when I’m writing merrily along, and all the words dive right into place without my even having to ask. Sometimes they will even suggest the best place for them to go in a particular sentence or paragraph.
“Whoa, Keith, I don’t think placing me in that particular context is really what you want,” a word might say.
“Oh really?” I will respond, anxious as always to hear what my words have to say.
“Yes. Really. Because what you think you’re saying and what you’re actually saying aren’t even in the same zip code, pal. So me say go forth and try again. Call me when you get it right.”
And so on and so forth. I mean, doesn’t that sound like fun? Like a healthy relationship between a man and his words?
But then comes that day. I’m siting there alone in my writing chair, staring desperately at the screen in the dark, my face lit up like something you might see in one of those low-budget horror flicks. Because nothing is more frightening than waiting on inspiration. And waiting. And waiting. And…
“Yo. Yo Keith.”
“Hey! Where you guys been? I’ve been waiting here for hours, man. I keep calling but nobody shows.”
“Yeah. Well, about that…”
“Wait…what are you…”
“So me and the other words? Yeah, we’ve been talkin’ and we’re thinking’…”
“No, wait, I can see where this is going. But you can’t do this to me guys. PLEASE. You CAN’T. The folks at the magazine got me on a deadline. If I don’t…”
“Right, right. I mean, it’s not like we don’t feel for you and everything. We do. We got much love for you. We do. But hey, you know, a word’s gotta do what a word’s gotta do. And sometimes a word goes bad.”
“Sometimes a …”
“Way of the world, young writer. Way of the world. But check in with me tomorrow. I may be feeling better. Seriously. But then again…”