Friday, July 22, 2011

The Next One

     It’s a precarious perch we writers keep.  Taking our thoughts, our observations, our inner feelings and putting them to words on a screen.  I can’t share an eye roll, a snort, a chuckle, an expression with you so I have to use words.  How will you read those words?  How will you construe what I’m writing?  When I write, “My car is red”, how many dozens of ways can that sentence be interpreted?  I can’t hear the snorts, see the eyes roll, or watch the expression on anyone’s face.  What if they hate it?  What if they love it and expect more but I have nothing else to say … ever?  What if I have writer’s block so fierce it makes me pine for the comfort of constipation? 

     I was working on a post last week when The Yankee walks in the room.  “Working on your column?” he asks.  I wanted to answer with something like, “Well, if I had an editor and this were 1969, yes.”  But I didn’t.  I said, “What do you think of this?”  He patiently waited as I read my post to him, looking more for free proofreading than approval.  As I finished, he paused.  “Soooo … you made a whole column out of our lawn?”  Again, I wanted to say, “If this were 1969, yes.”  But I didn’t.  I just stared at him.  Yes, I made an entire “column” out of our lawn. 

     This is why I hate it when someone says, “So what do you do?”  I have no idea what I do.  If I say, “I’m a writer”, then people want to know where they can buy my books.  If I say, “I have a website”, then people stare at my hips and wonder who on God’s green earth would want to see that on a webcam.  If I say, “I talk about life”, then they assume I’m a motivational speaker and want to know if I’ll donate my time to their next support group meeting in the back room of Lodge #351.  So, you can see how hard it is to really nail down what I do.  I’ve been tempted on a few occasions to say, “I write a column”, but that would seem like I was making fun of The Yankee ... which I do frequently enough as it is. 

     So back to what he was saying before, yes, I made an entire “column” out of our lawn.  And I thought it was pretty good until he made that statement.  It made me pause, re-read it, and realize that no one else would get the same thrill out of wondering aloud if our gosh-awful lawn gnome that I just can’t bear to throw out is responsible for the fact that the darn bulbs we planted never did root.  So, I hit “delete”.  Pretty cool, huh? how I can delete a “column”?!?  (OK, I’ll stop.)  I sighed and said, “Well, I guess I’ll start over.”  Then what he said next really made me stop and think: “There’s always the next one.” 

     The next one?  Does he think I order these posts from a catalog?  No!  They are the fruits of my labor.  The children of my variety show brain.  The reason I bought a laptop in the first place.  What does he mean, “the next one”?  And then it hit me: just like the meatballs I made that one time that didn’t turn out so well.  Just like that movie he picked up out of the bargain bin that made “Out of Africa” look like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.  Sometimes, you hit and sometimes you miss and this, (insert cringe here), was a miss.  There’s always the next one.  Maybe the next one will get someone thinking.  Maybe the next one will make someone laugh.  Maybe the next one will help some frazzled wife think, “Wow, if The Yankee does that annoying thing and Bertha still loves him, maybe I can make this work.”  Maybe the next one will make the mother of an autistic child forget her stress for a few moments and think, “That felt good to chuckle for a minute”.  You never know because there’s always the next one.  With a few misses comes a few hits.  And that is what I look forward to.  That is what I do. 

     Great.  Now when someone asks me what I do and I say, “I throw hits and misses”, they’ll look at my hips and say, “Bowler, right?”  Oh well.  There’s always the next one.

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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