Sunday, March 04, 2012

Spiral Notebook Sunday: Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The process of sorting and organizing the bits and pieces and boxes and stacks of books and papers I have somehow collected over the decades is always simultaneously ongoing and long overdue. Tonight, while digging through two folders marked "Inspiration," I found a photocopy of a Lynne Sharon Schwartz short story called "The Word," which appeared in her collection Referred Pain and Other Stories.

It's a stream of consciousness piece that gives us a front row seat on the despair and circular thinking that result when our narrator realizes she has forgotten "the word that was so crucial I promised myself I'd jot it down as soon as I got the chance" because, of course, the word was not merely a word, but the reminder of an idea for a story--or maybe a novel--that came to her in a moment of inspiration. And, now, it is lost forever because even if it does come back to her, it will never be the same.

The pain of that loss--of the word, story, idea, plan--is one most writers (and many regular folks) can easily identify with. For me, rereading it reminded me of tonight's Spiral Notebook entry.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Two weeks ago, I felt I'd had a minor breakthrough in the writing department. I had been scribbling notes down in a ratty notebook I'd been dragging around with me for that purpose and I even wrote some notes down on a magazine subscription card. Heck, I EVEN got out of bed forty-five minutes early to write.

...I wrote several paragraphs of truly inspired (had to be, to get me out of bed, huh?) stuff "toward" two separate pieces I've been working on for years--sometimes on paper, but most often only in my feeble mind. Anyway, I woke up that morning with some sort of twin track running in my brain--whole chunks of two pieces had formed in my head overnight. So I got up to record them.

I can't overstate my self-congratulatory state that morning. Oh, I was so impressed with me. I finished scribbling away and tucked the two sheets of paper into my infamous "blue bag," which I lug everywhere (it's some kind of security blanket thing, I'm pretty sure, but that's a whole other neurosis for a whole other entry).

Of course, I haven't seen those pages since--because that's the way my life seems to work. I have crap in that bag that bag that's been in there a year, mabye more. These two sheets of paper which represent so much more than the sum of their parts--at least in my admittedly feeble mind--are gone as if they never existed. I had library books and magazines in my bag, which I've since returned and I called the library and asked them to check in lost and found in case someone had turned them in. Nothing. I've been through the bag six hundred thousand times to no avail.

I rewrote them, of course. The thing about that is it's minus the spark of inspiration and plus the haze of self-doubt. I will always, always know it's not quite "the same," not quite "right."

19 comments:

  1. I know EXACTLY this situation. I hate it. I've lost very good words or notes. I've rebuilt sections of text that had NONE of the emotions the first draft contained. Ugh, ugh and double-ugh. If I were a gangstah, I'd say, "I feel you."

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    1. That last line made me giggle!

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  2. This happens to me all the time, most often with academic work. I'll be driving along when all of a sudden I come up with some brilliant breakthrough in my analysis. By the time I get somewhere with a pen and paper, only a vague shadow of that brilliance remains. So frustrating.

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    1. Driving is a good one, too. When all the boys were in separate colleges each about 2 hours away, I was driving an absurd amount and, therefore, thinking an absurd amount. I have stuff scribbled on the backs of envelopes and ATM receipts and, more recently, saved in the memo function on my cell phone. For everything that I've managed to write down, though, I bet there's twice that floating out there in the ether that was once inside my head and EVERYTHING out there feels like that essential piece.

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  3. The older I get, the more that seems to happen to be! I can lose a thought or word in an instant! Scary!

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    1. It is scary--and a little depressing. I've had to rely on writing it down more and more--and being more careful about where I keep it.

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  4. When this happens, I get depressed. It's horrible. Excruciating. I don't wish that on my worst enemy.

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    1. You're sweeter than me--there's a couple people I'd have a hard time not wishing it on. ;)

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  5. Hey, I left you a little something on my blog :)

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  6. I recently got an iPhone. The one that has the artificial intelligent agent named Siri. When an word or idea pops in to my head, I just press the button and ask Siri to remind me. Siri has an extraordinary memory, much better than mine.

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    1. I am weeks behind on The Big Bang Theory and so just saw the episode (from January) in which Raj develops romatic feelings for Siri. Between your experience and his, this Siri seems worth checking out. :)

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  7. I have this problem, especially at night. When I'm laying in bed, my mind starts to work and I get these flashes of brilliant (or so I think) ideas. I tell myself I'll remember in the morning. And, tho, I might remember the gist of it, the 'spark', the great way the words came together, is gone.

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    1. I tend to wake up--either first thing in the morning or the middle of the night with stuff in my head. I really need to get better about writing it down right away. Despite my notebook fetish, I still don't keep a pen and paper next to my bed--which means I have to get up to write things down. I always convince myself I'll remember later--and I never do--or not quite. I make myself a little crazy.

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    2. I can relate to all of this.

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  8. I feel for you, and totally get what you're saying! I've had that happen one too many times when my computer crashed without saving my inspired work. And it's just not the same the second time around, is it? :(

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    1. Oh, the technology eating my words thing--I've been badly burned on that, too. And writing a second attempt is almost like being haunted by the first the entire time you're banging away on the keyboard.

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  9. This is a nightmare. I get the shivers just thinking about it. One time I left an entire 3 ring binder full of poems, stories, essays and drawings in the back seat of a cab in Atlanta. There was no recovering it. I walked around for months feeling like I had a severed limb or something. It still haunts me sometimes.

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    1. Severed limb sounds about right. Explains the phantom limb pain. It's horrible.

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