“The night was humid.”
Throw Momma From the Train is a funny and accurate movie describing the host of dilemmas and tribulations writers face. This film encompasses all aspects of the creative process, from inspiration to writer’s block to envy. A whole gamut of emotions and frustrations are explored in wonderful Billy Crystal comedic fashion, all the while reluctantly plotting to kill Owen’s mother.
“The night was moist.”
Who hasn’t sat down at their desk, staring at the computer, wondering what the first line will be? Or better yet, in utter frustration, just waiting for something, anything to eke from their fingertips that is coherent.
I have sat glued to my keyboard more than once, thinking I need to write, only to find hours speed by, and a blank screen staring me down with mocking accusation of my talent. And then you have divergent conversations chiding your own mind. “Please love me, Muse. Screw you, Muse! Please, I was just kidding, I didn’t mean it…Why have you abandoned me?”
“The night was dry, yet it was raining.”
I find myself typing away in a fury, the words spilling forth from my fingers. I’m so proud of my word content. Jittery from hours of espressos, coffee, and sugar, I read what I wrote, and wonder, what the hell does any of this mean? Why did I revert to a fifth grade writing level?
In those moments, obfuscated by the blur of caffeine tremors, I was able to visualize scene and characters internal a world my own. I heard their dialogue. I knew their voices. But this did not translate from thought to words, and instead it ended up with monosyllabic diatribes, “The house was green. It was next to the street. Joe was nice.” Ugh. I guess that’s why we have multiple drafts.
And then there are those mistakes that slip through a draft and four revisions. So proud, handing off that “completed” copy off to my friend, I receive a text later, “What does this mean?” I stare at the line in the email, wondering how I missed this FOUR times. That’s what friends are for, especially smart, well read friends.
“Maybe the night isn’t humid. Maybe it was humid in the morning, and the night it was cold. That gives you fog. Aha, the night was foggy.”
This is the kind of ridiculous, manic, psychotic crap which bogs me down. I search through a letter in the dictionary, scanning word after word. The thesaurus comes out, and I beg it to reveal the secret for which I search.
I stand there, trying to think of a word, screaming the thought in my head, pacing my office sometimes as if one of the other walls–which are all in close proximity to each other–might give away a clue to this conundrum. And then you erase it all and stick with your original–”the night was humid.”
“The night was sultry.”
And there you have it, the breaking point. That moment triggered by a person who so nonchalantly flings out a word, a phrase, that you have been searching for days, the one you would die to be your original thought. Because you know putting it down on paper would cause you to die a slow death inside, knowing something that great in your manuscript was not yours. So you nod. That is all you can muster, a weak nod. Deep down inside, though, you want to sulk into the dark recesses of some closet and weep for a few minutes, all the while hugging your knees, rocking back and forth, repeating the wonderful, insightful phrase that just burrowed into your mind, not to leave for a good while now. “Thanks for the encouragement, hopefully my mind will erase this moment like liquor does a frat boys memories of four years of college, so just keep your creative thoughts to yourself. But again, thanks for that help.”
And then you wake up in the middle of the night, the only thing you have to write on is a scrap of paper, yet a whole manuscript starts vomiting from your mind. “Great, thank you for this moment, you selfish thought machine, who bucks conventional time constraints and social situations.” I guess, I can’t complain, take it where you can get it.
Maybe I’ll follow Owen and just write the damn Children’s pop-up book.