An Uncapped Pen

February 26, 2008

How do I do it?

Filed under: Writing — cindylv @ 5:19 pm
Tags: , ,


I can’t catch it.

I can’t command it.

I can’t see it.

I can’t count on it.

I usually just fall into it when I’m looking in the other direction. That state of mind-body connection where it’s all working and all I can do is close my eyes, get out of the way and enjoy the ride.

I can’t fight it.

I can’t control it.

I can’t hear it, smell it, touch it or taste it.

Sometimes I can’t even feel it until it’s gone. The words fly — hot, loose and clean. (Yes, I know the lyrics are “HARD, loose and clean”, but there is nothing hard about this altered state of consciousness.)

I know I’m not the one writing the words. “It” flows through me, picking through the attic and the cellar of my thoughts, memories, experiences. Then “It” organizes the mess into a stream and my job is to keep my fingers moving and stay out of the way. Sometimes, I’ve been foolish enough to interrupt for a comma or to de-dangle a modifier. When I’ve finished, I sit back with my fingers on the home row . . . and . . . nothing. Gone. Not even a “poof.” Just a distant memory. So I learned (and keep learning) not to interrupt. Ever. (It’s not polite to interrupt. Grandma said so.)

When I’m not writing, I’m waiting for “It.”

When “It” is busy at someone else’s house, I show up at the keyboard and peck and poke til my fingers crumble and all I’ll have to show for my effort is crumbled fingers and a screenload of typing drills (asdf ;lkj edr kij des kil swa lo;).

I carry a cloud of nonsense swirling around in my head, taking up space, making noise and getting in the way of rational thought. Before “It” can work and breathe, I have to decant a layer or two of the excess chatter. I do Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. Then I need to shake out the wrinkles in my imagination by writing descriptions or snippets of dialogue, maybe draw pictures in my head and just when I’m sure “It’s” not working . . .

“It” takes over and I get out of the way.

Hours later, I stretch, scratch, crack my back, drink some ginger ale and read what appeared while I wasn’t paying attention.

Then I tinker.



  1. Hi Cindy,

    Its the last line. The tinkering we do, that’s our unmaking. I am beginning to believe in this more and more.
    Deserves a blog post, when I get ready to start blogging again.

    Comment by Usman — February 27, 2008 @ 5:34 am | Reply

  2. You and Coleridge have something in common. Who knows where “Kubla Khan” would have gone had not the “person from Porlock” interrupted the poet. Check out

    for an interesting discussion of Porlock and interruptions.

    Comment by Steve Wylder — February 27, 2008 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

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