Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On The Rewriting of Opening Sentences

I have rewritten this sentence four times.

Sometimes it is a struggle sitting down with the laptop and writing something - not so much from lacking the thought about which to write but being frightened by what one wants to write.  How can writing be frightening, you might ask.  After all, it is just the placement of words on paper, the arrangement of thoughts in a coherent fashion for the purposes of communication.

But it can be more.  Sometimes, when we least expect it, parts of our innermost lives leak out on the page.

That is not really supposed to happen, of course.  We are supposed to keep our writing at a level that we can control and manipulate, that we manage our thoughts and feelings within the context of walking away from the keyboard and going on to our daily lives - after all, who knows who reads these things.  Certainly we do not want to have potentially embarrassing things outside of our heads.

But there comes the moment where one sits down, starts typing, and then looks at the words on the page and realizes "Is that what I really want to say?"  The finger poises above the "Backspace" button as we look at the words which confess a deep unhappiness or reveal a surprising hatred or speak of an unspoken love or describe something which, if we said out loud, would get us fired or ostracized.

Or free us, maybe.

That is the risk, of course.  That something we write will actually loose the chains of conformity and mediocrity from our souls.  That we will find the courage in that moment to reach down into the recesses where we store such things and bring them out into the light of day.  That we will become that person who burns in our thoughts.

Ray Bradbury said "Let the world burn through you.  Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper."  Yet by this form of self editing the world does not burn through me; instead I blow it out lest the flames reach up and engulf not only the paper, but my life.  For, of course, the difficulty with flame is that once it has been lit it becomes uncontrollable.

And yet...

And yet the lines are there, buried beneath thoughts and good sense and the risk/reward ratio which only the soul believes it knows how to calculate.  They remain there, snug as daffodil bulbs beneath a winter's blanket, waiting for the day when, like the rising of the spring sun, they will be spilled out onto the page.

And then just stand there in glorious black and white as the next sentence is typed.

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