Waiting for the words to flow
One of the treats of living in the country for Marlie, was her beloved geese. Going for a drive with Owen always meant that she might see them. To her great disappointment, however, there were no geese to be seen anywhere on that particular day. Marlie chuckled to herself. It made her think of the blank screen on her computer, as she waited for the words to flow from her mind to her fingers ‒ but nothing.
“Perhaps the geese got tired of being stalked,” she had told Owen. “They can’t keep away from us indefinitely.”
Just as with her writing, she hoped that they would reveal themselves to her, maybe even tomorrow.
How Marlie had wished that she could just transfer thoughts and feelings to paper as she experienced them. In her head, she had written many chapters, connecting each phrase with precision as though indeed someone was going to read it, nay, proof read it, and therefore ‒ it all had to be just so. She was very good at writing this way in her head where everything flowed without effort. She particularly loved the beginning of chapters or paragraphs. She knew the importance of simple provocative phrases to grab the interest of the reader. Whenever she was alone with her thoughts, a lead phrase would pop into her mind and off she would go. Her chapters were not linear but circular, always returning to that one subtle foreshadowing comment, tucked away some pages before. Once she transferred her mind-work to the computer, she could cut and paste as she wished. But ‒ before all that ‒ she had to get these thoughts out into a tangible form and obsess about the wording later.
Perhaps a small recording device would help. Instead of the silent head-thoughts, she could instead speak into the machine. Afterwards, the audible thoughts could be transferred to a visible state. She would spend time alone and write her book that way, the first draft being the spoken word. But, she realized that profound thoughts tended to come to her during long afternoon drives with Owen. Therefore, a recording device, didn’t seem to be the solution. If only she could go straight home to the computer and just get on with writing.
Being a meticulous planner, Marlie had set herself a time to begin her work. It would be in early September. Others may think of new beginnings as January, but for Marlie, it had always been September. She associated the going back to school as the time for reorganizing with new books and new clothing. There was a freshness to this naive way of thinking. It brought her back to her school days when she had really believed that she was the master of her own fate and that she could do anything she set her mind to. Without a whole lot of effort, she had always done well in school. She was never a fanatic; she didn’t ever go out of her way to excel. But if she liked a particular subject, or a special teacher, she would give the subject her all, which of course was a useful way of being at university where she had an astonishing experience. It was here that she finally became her own person. And it was here that she had met Owen, that first time.
But enough of daydreaming. It was September now and Marlie acknowledged that she hadn’t written anything. She couldn’t quite grasp why it was so difficult for her to start. She had always written. She remembered writing from the time she was at least ten. She had written poems in grade school and throughout her life, in fact: there was one about the garden which she had recited in grade six; she remembered the teacher had asked her who had written it, and to Miss Taylor’s surprise, Marlie had nonchalantly said, “Oh, it was me.” All through high school and university she had written poems. Then, everything had been easy. Everything just flowed from her mind onto paper. Her favourite continued to be “The River’s Tale”. She had switched to short message stories during the first few years of her marriage. They had become part of an annual tradition and printed in a newsletter. She had compiled a dozen of these and sent them off to a publisher. The rejection letter wasn’t a bad one, but enough of a deterrent. She didn’t try again. She remembered now that her last manager had asked her: “‒ and have you published?”‒ to which of course she had to say “No!” She had taken the question as a not so subtle put down and knew instantly that it was meant to impair her. Is that what had happened? Would she ever be able to convey her creative silent thoughts to the tangible visible state?
Then one day someone with whom she had worked had telephoned her. In later years, Marlie remembered this happenstance as a sign. Miranda had also written unpublished stories and continued to do so. When Marlie asked her how she got past the blank screen in front of her, Miranda let out a full, hearty laugh:
“If I knew the answer to that I would market it and it would be worth millions ‒ Marlie, you just have to keep trying and waiting for the words to flow!”