Paulelmo's Blog

The scant criteria to become a post on here and people who have “always wanted to write”–from the archives

I’ve had about fifteen thoughts about things to write about in the hour or so that I’ve been up. That pleases me and gives me confidence as I begin this post; having been selected over others, it is a proven winner before I write that first word.

You might think that it was so chosen because it presented a more interesting topic than the others, but that isn’t it at all. You might also be somehow put off when I say that I willingly passed up more interesting things to get to this, and if I owe any apologies for so choosing, I offer them.

The truth, however, was that I could see a few more sentences into this one. My mind came upon at least three more interesting things to write about–I don’t have to recall what those were; if they’re important enough, they’ll come back around–but each time I could only see two or three sentences into them. I could see more into this one; I couldn’t actually see the sentences or know what they were going to be about, but I could see they’d be there when I needed them. I knew that I could get two sentences in and the third would be waiting, and then the fourth would. So on they would come until I got to the point when I could say to myself things like, “that is all of you sentences that I have need for at this time, and isn’t that a good one to end with.”

And so it goes, progressing to points ever closer to that last sentence, that last period when I know that I don’t have any more need of any more sentences at that moment.

Some of the ideas that I passed up were about people in the news; names like Franken and Trump, and my old friend Gene Simmons, come to mind, but I knew I wouldn’t get too far into those without having to do a little research, and, I’ll tell you, I research enough. Sometimes it’s good to just let the mind fly and spill some ink.

You see, all of those sentences and we haven’t even gotten to the post proper yet. This dude is about six or seven paragraphs in, and you don’t even know what he’s talking about. That’s not gonna work; that’s not interesting; nobody’s ever going to want to read something like that. Still, here we are; here you are. There might not be many of you, but there are some, and you are one of them.

And to that post proper, what say I? I say this:

I think that some people think that I’m going to find it interesting, them interesting, when they say they’ve always wanted to write. I don’t; nor do I find a lack of interest in it. Instead, I find it odd.

I don’t understand why someone would want to do something and not do it. I get it for a day maybe, even a week, but for always? I mean that I don’t get it, within reason, and within the realm of possibility, of course.

In some cases, we can’t do the things we want to do simply because we can’t do the things required to do that thing, or at least do them well enough. I would have loved to have been the starting shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, but I wasn’t good enough. That’s a case of me wanting to do something that I just couldn’t do.

There are also situations where someone doesn’t have the means to do that thing he or she wants to do; maybe they want to go to Disneyland, but they don’t have the money. I get that; it is understanding that such want is not fulfilled.

But when someone tells me they’ve always wanted to write, but they don’t, I just find it odd. I never think that they don’t know how to write. I assume they know how to actually complete the craft of writing, that they know the alphabet and have been instructed in the basics of basic punctuation marks and have been taught at some point the difference between a sentence and a paragraph. I assume they have been familiarized with those basics simply because not one of those people has ever followed up “I’ve always wanted to write” with anything like “but I’ve never learned how” or “but I had to drop out of school at six because they needed help at the mill.”

If anyone said anything like that to me, I would understand, and I imagine I would have a greater emotional response than I do when I get something like “I’ve always wanted to write, but I just never have” or, what’s far worse, “I’ve always wanted to write…” And then nothing; regret? woolgathering? It ain’t like I’ve got time for you to be forlorn, and if you think saying this is going to make me find you in a new light, you’re right; it does.

It puts you in a peculiar light. You’ve been taught to write, and it doesn’t cost more than a pen and a piece of paper to do so, so if you want to, if you’ve always wanted to, then why aren’t you?

I just don’t get it.

So, I’ve taken this to be my pat response when someone just offers “I’ve always wanted to write…” I just say, “So have I.” That doesn’t tell them much about me, and I don’t think it gives them any of the satisfaction for which they were searching, but it satisfies me; at least I know then that we’re both a bit confused. So off they go, and off I go. I don’t worry too much about where they’re heading, because I know where I’m heading; I going back to looking for a string that leads to a sentence, which is good enough to end with.

 

(I think of this novel when I write like this. It’s a puzzle of a book, and it just might be my favorite novel; it’s such a fun book, and, if you like novels, I highly suggest it.)

if on a winter’s night a traveler Amazon page

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