I have come to peace with two facts since my new friend Jean Clinton from New Orleans, Louisiana visited last month. Fact #1: I am a writer. I’m sharing this post at Honey & Quinine because I AM a writer. If I weren’t a writer, you would not be reading this post. Knowing I’m a writer, and vowing today to write much more than I have in recent years, doesn’t make it any easier to be a writer. I read that writers are paranoid, dangerously hypersensitive, procrastinators with suicidal thoughts .
Yes I am.
Earlier this year I advised the well-respected editor of a local business monthly that I was too busy fending off slights and errors of outrageous fortune to continue contributing to the paper. Shooting myself in the foot would have been a more productive option, Those slights and errors took me as close to the precipice of incipient dust as I expect to go to incipient without crossing over. For the last few months I’ve resumed contributing to the publication, thanks to the editor who understood and welcomed me back.
In mid-summer I told the emcee of a local writers’ monthly open microphone event that since I had another time commitment on Wednesdays, I would resume attending her event (which I had avoided for some months) on alternative months. That was a move UP for me. Some may suggest I should never return, considering the bounty of slights and errors I have harvested from it in recent years, but a larger force prevails today. Most social groups have participants who share culinary delights of words that nourish the heart and soul, and most social groups have participants who share, knowingly or innocently, what comes out the other end. I wish I knew a group comprised only of the former, but that would require a larger circle of friends, and I have many fewer than the requisite required for that kind of bliss. The alternating month third Wednesday event downtown is my only chance to show what I am. I would be less than I am if I stayed away. Between today and next Wednesday, I will write two poems or maybe a poem and a song, select a poem by Vachel Lindsay to recite (not read to a piece of paper), and I will be what I am.
My hearing is going south on me. Most of those who come to the microphone will share words I will not hear because they don’t know, or don’t care to know, how to use a microphone . . . or because my hearing stinks. But regardless, I will be what I am.
This week I began Monday with a respectable start on two articles promised to the business monthly. I had two major interviews taped during personal visits and another slated for Tuesday. Logically, I should have spent Monday in my airport office reviewing the two interviews, making notes, transcribing “quotable quotes” from them. Other priorities prevented me: photographing that incredible helicopter, visitors coming through my OPEN office door to talk about the museum and flying, incredible people, piloting airplanes, professionals whose careers required them to fly as passengers to earn a living all over the world. Not all visitors were convivial, impressed by what they saw here, but most were, and that was enough: almost-instant gratification and affirmation for the piece of me that has given my life to aviation. HOURS of this kind of interfacing happened Monday, and I neglected my articles. Driving home Monday about 8 pm, I hated myself for allowing that neglect.
Tuesday went like clockwork: precisely, on time. Had a terrific interview, arrived on time at a seminar about drones I planned to report about in the December issue, Chatted with several aviation pros I know as valued acquaintances, took some pictures . . . good time. Back at my office I processed pictures I had taken for the articles, celebrated by purchasing a delicious chicken teriyaki submarine sandwich from the Subway restaurant in the airport terminal (dined back at my office desk) and almost-instantly was trounced upon by serious lethargy and the feeling that an adult-size regulation bowling ball was transiting through my gastro-intestinal tract. It hobbled my ability think clearly as a writer. I don’t know that for certain (and if a person doesn’t know for certain — let’s be real here — he or she doesn’t know it at all) but I thought that I knew it . . . and that was all I needed to do something I could do with one half of my cerebrum tied behind my back: process airplane pictures. Yes, I was very sleepy, but YES, I was determined to do productive work. I made some progress. (YIPEE, I guess) and in late afternoon I went to a room upstairs. . . . . and took a nap for 90 minutes. I have an inflated air mattress intended for camping, a few pillows and quilt from home, and slept on the carpeted floor. I awoke refreshed and returned to the office darn-near invigorated.
But I processed airplane pictures. It was after 5:00 pm, and my “journalist” hours are 9 am to 5 pm. My poetry and song writer hours are . . . . well, there are none. When it’s time for me to “arts write,” I arts write. I was miles from that mode Tuesday night. And I went home at 7 after dealing with a few more pictures VOWING I would “write what needs to be writ” all day Wednesday. I hated myself for the rest of the night, but I slept okay.
The next day I got as far as finding my interview files on the digital recorder, I had plugged it into the USB port on the computer to save the battery and transcribe notes from the computer speakers instead of recorder’s ear buds. . . . . . then museum visitors began wandering in through my open office door, and I could not say “no.” It was like that the rest of the DAY! I’ll spare you the details. And then I had to be present for the weekly model club meeting. Again, I felt my back was against the all and I ate myself up and spit myself out (metaphorically) several times going home. What a perfect time for a fatal accident in transit! I could imagine a minor headline: Springfield Native Son/Writer Dies in Collision with Runaway Truck on J. David Jones Parkway, Misses Springfield Business Journal Deadline . . . Truly I anticipated I was going to be late with my articles, though I knew that I could complete them over the weekend. I didn’t want to do that
because I consider myself a writing pro who respects — and makes — deadlines. I poetize in color but as a journalist, I work with black and white.
Early arrival Thursday and shut the office door after getting a first cup of coffee and LOCKED it behind me. There would be no visitors, no music. I told the co-owner of Horizon Aviation (where my office is) that I was not going to photograph ANY airplane that arrived on the parking tarmac even if it was a B-52! He understood. Good man, Rob Fisher!
I did what I had to do. I complete the MAJOR article and emailed it to editor by 5:15. The other article was ready to write from the interviews during a personal visit and phone calls made Thursday.
The drive home was almost bliss. As pilots say when descending to the airport after a flight, I had the field “made.” I knew I could glide the rest of the way to the targeted runway and “home.” In novel and short fiction writing terms, I had completed the climax; all that was left on Friday morning was the denouement!
So it was. The shorter article was written with office door shut but unlocked and emailed to the editor by 10:15. I can truly relax a little despite museum tasks tapping their figurative feet, reminding me it’s time to pay attention to them again.
I will after a nice lunch.
The other thing I am? Remember I mentioned two epiphanies? That ramble will have to wait for Saturday. But I’ll tell you now, the other thing, Fact 2, that I am.
I am a Southern man.
Live long . . . . . . . . and proper . . . . . . . . . y’all.