There’s an old joke that goes like this. This overwrought writer is talking to his friend. Every night, he says, he dreams these incredible stories and when he wakes up he can’t remember them. The friend suggests that he set an alarm clock for two hours before he usually wakes up and when it wakes him up to write down whatever he was dreaming. The desperate writer does this. He goes to sleep and that very night has an unbelievable dream full of passion and beauty and brilliance. The alarm goes off and he writes down what he can remember and conks back out. When he wakes up he almost bursts into tears because he can’t remember a thing about the fantastic dream he had. Then he remembers that he’d taken his friend’s advice. He grabs the pad by his bed stand. On it he had written “boy meets girl.”
This is what I like least about writing. You have an inspired thought and then you run smack dab into the mammoth limitations of language you process to express it. The maddening inability to find the words to communicate and awaken in others the fiery thought in your head. You can conjure, at best, a spark. Maybe a flicker. Always falling short of casting the proper spell where your reader will know what chocolate tastes like despite never having tasted it. It’s a constant lesson in humility and humiliation. To try to create a golden coach to carry the Cinderella of ideas to the ball and, instead, driving up in a rusted Volvo. Then, should you manage to put your personal stamp on that sparkly thing that brightened your ether, comes the chorus of voices that tell you, “every story has been written.” “There’s nothing new.” Wow. Really? But my boy meets this very particular girl. Nope. Been done. So I sit here struggling to find the words to describe struggling to find the words to describe. And I’m haunted by the nagging feeling that somebody else wrote this last Thursday.