A few weeks back I celebrated the 500th posting on my blog. Since then I’ve been going back and retrieving those that I think actually had something to say and said it reasonably well. I am considering compiling them into a book Maybe I’ll buy a copy. I’ve even thought of a working title: “Stories My Fingers Wrote.” Huh? Bear with me…
One does not wake up one morning and decide that he or she is a writer. Nope, doesn’t happen that way. Most times the decision is made for you and it is just a matter of time when it dawns on you. For some, the big reveal comes early in life and they begin banging out best-seller after best-seller. I suspect Stephen King is likely one of these people. For others it comes later. I am in that group, at least as a writer of books, but certainly not best-sellers. I wrote other things throughout my career, but it wasn’t until I retired that I began to poop out books, as many as one a year initially.
I think the concept of sitting down at a typewriter or computer keyboard and transferring thoughts residing in your brain onto a piece of paper in the form of an organized arrangement of letters is…well, it’s pretty remarkable. And if you write fiction the concept is all the more sensational since that often involves the exposure of one’s usually hidden, deeply personal thoughts. Some writers handle this latter process without any inhibitions. For others, it’s like reaching in shoulder high to adjust the position of a breached calf attempting to escape its mother’s womb and join the world of the living. It a procedure that inevitably gets messy, challenging and always draining.
Try this, if you will: find a quiet moment and sit yourself down at a keyboard, or take pen in hand if you are of the vintage sort, and proceed to write. Write what? Well, not the meaning of life, that’s for sure. No, what I want you to write is more daunting than that. I want you to write a lurid sex scene. You may show some discretion in your descriptiveness, but the details and images should pretty much be present and accounted for. So, go ahead! Have at it!
When I was confronted with this challenge I have to admit I found it hard to handle. The book I was writing at the time, ANCHOR, demanded a sex scene. Not just a stereotypical quickie moment of spontaneous combustion hidden away in a office storeroom—and no, that never happened to me. What I had to write was a scene that involved, a no-holds-barred, very sensuous session between a man and a women. And all I could think about was the fact that my family—my own children and their children—and my best friends would no doubt be reading what I wrote. How embarrassing is that? It was the only time I felt any relief from the fact that my parents were no longer with us. But what about the other people? No surprise there. Some of them did eventually offer feedback, most of them making the “whodda thunk” kind of comment. I guess they assumed I was a highly sheltered, innocent and unworldly soul unexposed to contemporary realities. They thought me hidden away somewhere wrapped up in my blankie…with my teddy bear.
The point can be made that some writing is very emotional and it involves the whole being, body and soul. For me, the body part is made up of ten digits extending from my hands. Yes, I truly believe that my fingers are an integral part of my writing process. They pound every letter of every word onto the keyboard as the impulses stream down from my brain, traveling through my neck, then taking a hard turn left or right and proceeding around my shoulders, down my arms, through my wrists and then knuckle by knuckle until each pulse finally arrives at its destination. Here a decision is made as to upon which key shall the fingertip place itself and then apply downward pressure. I swear that at this very moment in the writing process, my fingers—not my brain—are the determinant of what winds up on paper. I know this is true because at this moment my thoughts are always well past what my fingers are typing. And besides, why else would there be typos and misspellings?
So it is with this revelation of realizing my fingers have much to do with how and what I write, that I awaken each morning well aware that I am a writer. It is a gift that I willingly unwrap and put to use. And at those times when I am stalled or my memory is amiss, I take comfort knowing the resolution—the answer—is right there…it’s on my fingertips.