Sunday, January 26, 2014


Internet photos

One of my favorite bloggers lives by the sea in Scotland, and puts down  exquisitely-crafted lines, evoking time and place and music,  elegant dinners and memorable books and wonderful gatherings with friends.   In a note recently, he termed himself “an impatient writer,” and says that he  always feels he should go back and change a few things after he’s posted.

Oh, the Impatience.  And the hurry and the Must Get It Down Before I Forget.   Mine, I just dash down fast as my fingers will fly, and only my persnickety streak gives the thing any sort of spelling or grammar tending.   And lately, in the past few years, a cloud of words will take form in the air, just floating there like banners behind Beachey.    Then, a breeze scatters some of the letters, with gusts tossing whole sentences and lines around, until the whole thing looks like a skyful of contrails, drifting aimlessly as they evaporate and I gaze skyward, wondering “Who’s Dorothy?”

I graduated from WriteRight to Big Chief and Hopalong Cassidy, and thence to the Grand Marvel:   legal pads.  And all that wide-open free space stretching on for page after page caused me to  scribble, trying to keep my fingers’ pace with all the words flying out, and I’d put them down and flip a page, fast as I could stand to press the little pencil corners into that lump developing on my finger.   I couldn’t ever seem to hit a flat side, and the keen little painted edge would dig in and hit the same old tender spot a hundred times, as I’d quit for a moment, and give a big fling of all my fingers like my hand was asleep.

And I think I broke more pencil leads than an entire class of first-graders anywhere, so I learned to sharpen two #2 Ticonderogas.   I’d be just going along, and the point would give a little crack and break under my hand, either flying off onto the desk or leaving a little smooch-track across several lines.   And pencils were never wasted---they’d be sharpened down and down into little doll-pencils, so that I’d have to hold them between curled index-and-middle with the eraser just kissing my palm,  so as to get every smudge of lead onto the page before starting with a new one. 

And when there was a particular moment or scene or conversation I wanted to set down before it left me, I’d just fly and flip and write and flip, not even getting the pages smoothed under, til I’d sort of shake out of my trance and see that I had a great big ole paper pompadour all rolled at the top, like Elvis’ hair had been rolled on Minute Maid cans.  Only closing them all neatly and putting a heavy book or two on top for the night seemed to get them in place.

And these days with keyboards, I'm even worse.


Ann said...

How I remember the Big Chief Tablet days, I can still remember how they smelled-is that crazy? Thank you for your kind words on my hubby's Clef shelf. Does anyone use a pencil much anymore, I just heard on the news last night--every student in my grand children district will receive an I-pad or laptop for the classroom that they can take home and use for homework.

A Super Dilettante said...

My dear Rachel,

I'm not quite certain who you meant when you mentioned about your favourite blogger in Scotland and all the generous things you said about him ;-) This is most kind indeed.

As always, I thoroughly enjoy reading this post. What a wordsmith you are - to be blessed with an innate talent to create an array of emotions and moods in precise, controlled prose out of thin air.

It is a special talent. I smile when you wrote, "I think I broke more pencil leads than an entire class of first-graders anywhere."

You are a very good writer. The confident skill of what you can do with the words and your voice are both very striking and assured. Your touch is gentle, often funny and always acute...

I think there is a great advantage for putting everything down on the paper. You get more spontaneity, compression and immediacy from that exercise. As for me, I plough through by re-writing over and over again until it can be left without any more surgery. I often write things in my head but most of them turn into little frothy pieces and I'm too ashamed to write them down and as a result, they never come out from my head.

If only we lived closer, we could talk more about on this topic. But I don't want to bore you as if I am preaching to the choir.

If you would like to send something ("for my eyes only"), dear Rachel, in the future, please send me via email (available on my profile). I feel contrite that I wasn't able to publish your earlier comment as my blogger would not let me edit or censor the individual comment.

In the meantime, thank you once again for your kindness, and I look forward to reading your new post and keep up with all the good works.

Best wishes,


Justabeachkat said...

Oh, dear friend, your way with words is music to my ears...I mean eyes :-) I ALWAYS love to visit you and I'm NEVER disappointed.

Big hugs,

Kim S. said...

Oh, those fly away sentences!!! Dern them. Wonderful post, my friend - what a way with words you have.