Wednesday, June 3, 2015

500 Words, Day 15 - In Soviet Russia . . .

In the course of doing this project,  I have noticed a change in the way I think about writing. Now that I have this structure, this daily deadline, I’m taking my blog more seriously.   I’m not just dropping in when I feel particularly creative, or when an event prompts some scribbling, or some dialogue takes place that is too good to pass up.   Each day brings a deadline, and with the deadline comes adrenaline.   Each day demands another 500 words.  And each day I look around all the corners in search of some that will sound good if I string them together.  

It’s like the old joke -- in Soviet Russia, words write YOU.  Six characters in search of an author.  500 words in search of a blog post.  

When I was in seventh grade, we had to put together an insect collection for science class.  Each student was supposed to get out there and catch a lot of bugs, stick them onto cardboard with pins, and turn that mess in for a grade.   I don’t know why I couldn’t get it together on this one.  It’s not that I was that grossed-out by bugs, or that I revered life especially, or anything.   I just couldn’t make it happen.    

Anyway, the day it was due, I got up super early and headed out to the edge of the development where they had stopped work on the houses when the money ran out.  (I swear my childhood was a series of movie cliches).  There were undeveloped lots of milkweed and goldenrod, where the collectible insect population was said to be particularly dense.   I don’t know what I was thinking would happen, but I knew I had to get out there so that I wouldn’t be lying when I got to class and said that I had tried.  I ended up with exactly five of the required 25 insects.  When I got back to the house, my mother was waiting for me with a panicked fury that subsided somewhat when she saw that I was safe.  I went to school, and when it was time to turn in the science projects, I went up to the teacher and confessed that I hadn’t done the collection because I couldn’t find any bugs.  

And then I burst into tears.    The teacher, who was pretty cool about the whole thing, told me that I could write a five-page paper about insects instead.   Wait, what?   No bugs and I get to write?   Beautiful.  

I’ve been thinking about that day off and on for years, just a little vignette, just a little sumpin sumpin.   I got a million of em.  The point is that I wouldn’t have thought to write about it if I hadn’t been sitting here struggling to come up with something to write about.  That’s the point.  That writing when you’re inspired is awesome.  But writing when you’re not inspired may end up being more awesome.    Practicing starting fires instead of waiting for a bolt of lightning.   A controlled burn versus a wildfire.   

1 comment:

  1. Necessity is the Mother of Invention. Or Frank Zappa is. I'm unclear on all of this. Must try lumpy gravy to enlighten myself.