In the elevator we all pushed our buttons, some boldly and some surreptitiously.
Mine came out the lowest. Hard to do only seven floors from the top of the building – like skating out of a round of hearts with a Jack. I shrugged off slight sneers and enjoyed the head rush of expressing past fifteen intermediate floors of the high-rise.
I do my best writing in my head while I’m in transit – in an elevator, or walking down the street – which is maybe why so little of it actually finds its way to the page.
It’s not so unusual; I write the best songs while I’m falling asleep. And, in high school I used the write the best French essays in my sleep.
Composing blogs in wakeful daylight may seem more convenient, but my two sleep-adjecent habits are easy enough to manage. For French it was just a matter of jotting it down when I awoke. For songs, if it’s a good one I wake up, walk down the hall, sing it into a microphone, and go back to bed. (And, I have finally relented and put a pad on my night table, for those occasions where the quality is more questionable).
I had disliked her immediately as she sidled up the bus shelter while taking a long, insistent drag off of her cigarette, exhaling her haze in my direction.
Then, as if sensing she was already on my bad side and had nothing left to lose, she conjured an empty coke bottle from her handbag, contemplated it for a moment (taking another lengthy pull), and then crouched down low on the curb and quite deliberately shoved the trash into the gutter.
Quite involuntarily, my face churned into a sneer; i was hardly inclined to resist.
Why can’t that be punishable by death instead of hypothetical $300 fine, I wondered. Can she really be making a positive contribution to society if she can’t walk five steps out of the bus shelter to throw that in a trash can?
Writing is another matter. I write in my head in my written narrative voice, rather than my speaking voice. It doesn’t necessarily translate to speaking, so recording my thoughts via my cell phone is often for naught – the text doesn’t hang together when I transcribe it. And, since I type three or four times faster than I write in longhand, pulling out a pad doesn’t always capture all of the dimensions of my phrase.
I create too many phrases that wither and die on the vine of my mind. I can’t tell you how many witty blogs and music reviews and media critiques I’ve lost in subways or while crossing streets.
What do real writers do? What do you do?