when you think you’re gonna die, what’s more important: a good book, or a good smoke?

18 September 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ll take both, please – we’ll have a smoke, and I’ll keep the book in my pocket. The whole time, even when you ask if it’s my passport. This is not what the customs agents stamp, but it gets me places. Sometimes I lose it in the places it brings me, like discarding a plane ticket upon arrival. You can’t just throw away symbols like that. There’s so much guilt there. I feel it in my chest.

When you’re a kid, no one ever teaches you how to deal with the loss of your own ideas. When inspiration hits at inconvenient times, in bed, or any time no pen lives in your pocket, you stop thinking about the idea and instead dwell on that you have nothing with which to record it. This stumps the idea in its tracks. Falters the line. Rejects the lightning strike of creativity, inconsiderate that it may move on to someone else who will appreciate it more.

What I’m saying is not that you should keep a pen and book with you at all times (though it is a good idea), but it is good, when you have a thought, to let it come and fill you. Nurture it, get to know it, start a fire. Ideas are pests; they buzz from one head to the next, cross-pollinating experience, talent, and ingenuity. They must be slapped when they land; if they are still alive when you come to, they deserve respect.

Many writers and artists keep notebooks nearby. Their books, by standard Moleskine, are bound strong enough in volume to smack the root-thick heads of creatives when necessary. Some think they must write every day to stay sharp. For those who dull easily, this is true. The arrogant remainder of them foster guilt around not writing every day, or at worst, only keep a book with them to look smart, or solely for girls’ phone numbers; both reasons’ origin is the same need.

I am a recovered guilt addict.
(deep bow, vulnerable look)

It has seemed better at times to hold on to the practices of others to remain ‘ahead’ of them. But the game of art is no competition; even from the same idea, we phrase conclusions distinct fromĀ  each other. Think of a writing prompt, and how every perspective is original. Our talents and experiences source from different places – some mine their brains every day, while others do better to work their alchemy internally, patient for richer fruit.

I am of the latter group, dubbed the Procrastinators, and I don’t need my guilt. If an idea moves on, good riddance; another one will come along. Until it does, I’ll sit and have a smoke.


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