Monday, April 19, 2010

Peace in the Pieces / Get These Words Out of my Head!

"Oh, this? This isn't my long term plan," I explain, when circumstance requires me to talk about my current job. "This is just until I can start doing what I really want to do."
"What's that?" their faces ask.
"I'm a writer," I say with the same certainty as if I'd just been asked how many toes I have. "My longer term plan is to write. That's what I'm going to do."

"Oh, how interesting! What will you write about?"

This is the part where I start to feel as if someone just asked me something crazy about my 10 toes, like "what socks will you wear two weeks from Tuesday" -- which, although it may seem a perfectly reasonable question to the asker, seems both random and irrelevant to the owner of the toes. And the socks.

Because for me, writing has never been about the "what". The content has never driven the writing. But rather the writing has revealed the facts and illuminated moral lessons and thematic links between seemingly disparate topics.

I'm a writer because my brain is full of words. They swirl around inside my head, bumping into one another and making little linkages -- words that might sound the same, or have similar vowel patterns, or maybe words that are synonyms (or cinnamons). I pair pears, or pare pairs of pears or bear bears. (Mmmm, cinnamon bears.) The point is, I have bunches of words in my head that fit together somehow -- they WANT to link up. I know they do. But I don't really know what they want to be. Yet.

It's a little like building a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle -- You've got half a cardboard box full of pieces, but you've lost the the lid-half of the box-- the part with the picture on it that shows what the finished product will be. For all you know, these are randomly-cut pieces of cardboard that don't even belong together. But as you paw through the pieces in the box -- the half without the picture, mind you -- you see things that might go together -- similar shapes, or colors, or maybe two or three that look like they could be foliage or water or possibly sky. But with everything still in the box, stir as you might, you're not going to know what the picture looks like until you start putting the pieces on the table and sorting them into like-patterned-piles and moving them around until things start to fit together. But even without doing that, you've seen enough to believe that this is a bona fide, go-together puzzle, not 5000 pieces from 5000 different boxes. You know that these individual bits will come together to form a cohesive picture. Even though you can't really say what the picture will be. Yet.

That's how it is with the words in my brain. I've been stirring the pieces in bottom half of the box for quite a while. Occasionally I've put a handful on the table and found two pieces that "fit" -- color pattern and topic, Tab A goes into Slot B, etc. So I know I've got the makings of a fully-interlocking, spread-glue-on-the-back and hang it on the faux-wood-paneled-wall of your 70's-era-basement-game-room puzzle masterpiece. But to date, I haven't had the table space to start sorting and building in earnest. But the puzzle box of my brain is getting full. And sometimes all I can hear is the clatter of the giant word-puzzle shaking around in its brain-box. So it's time to make time. And table space. And to get these words out of my head.

And I honestly don't know if I'm building Monet's Waterlilies or a Velvet Elvis or a Sad Creepy Clown. The finished product might be classy or kitschy, Sotheby's or Saturday Flea Market. But the pieces WILL fully interlock. And the picture will emerge. And I'll finally find peace in the pieces.

Peace in the Pieces/Get These Words Out of My Head (C) Jeanene Vesper 2010

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