Thinking About Writing

Hello, dear reader, it has been a while. Here I am again and here I am writing. It is almost sad in some alienated, modern sense. Would it be so odd to compare unpopular bloggers to an avant-garde artist? Except the avant-garde artist is attempting to reach pure art, with all of art’s barnacles washed away, whereas I’m merely adding onto the barnacles of this blog. To strain this metaphor to the breaking point, this blog is a boat and every post is a barnacle.  I do not have any pretensions to the contrary. 

But where can I find the words to write? The best words have an echo in them, but finding the right words–word–is not easy. And as I’m staring off into space I remember a cheery anecdote. Or maybe the anecdote remembers me, which would explain why it has so eagerly bubbled to the service and surface. Franc Lewis “Bullet” McCluer, who became president of Fulton College in 1933, frequently wrote letters the same way I write my blogs, which is perfect in some way. This is a letter to you dear reader. And McCluer would pace his office pulling books off his shelves looking for the right poetry, prose or image to inspire his own words. Fulton is somewhat famous because it was the site where Churchill gave to the public forum the ominous phrase ‘the Iron Curtain.’ He titled the speech Sinews of Peace, a much frothier title than one would expect for a speech to house the phrase that described tensions in Eastern Europe. 

Churchill had the benefit of being deeply but not dully conservative. If you are wondering dear reader the answer is yes. Deeply but not dully is a phrase plucked from the posthumous embrace of Gore Vidal. He keeps on giving and for that I thank him. 

This way of writing naturally complicates my afternoon in thoughts about why am I so fragmented? George Orwell described terrible writing as “gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.” Am I not, in some odd way, doing the very same as I create these islands of lush phrasing and bumble my way from one point to another? It is more than a little disappointing. But isn’t there, on the wings, T. S. Eliot, that great enabler of plagiarizers, waiting for this moment to spring down with his works–and choice quote–that mature poets steal? He added, perhaps out the worry that he had given away his game, that good poets make something better or at least different. I suppose I have that small consolation. Writing is always about making something different and if the ingredients are simply waiting on my bookshelf, just as the ginger is waiting in my pantry, how could I be criticized for not resisting the temptation? At least that is what I tell myself. 

Well, dear reader, if you are still with me after all this I’m afraid that there is no ultimate point to this. It is only my thoughts this afternoon, and as I create a circle of books around myself I thank my conception of God for my good situation. I hope your weekend gets off to a good start. 

3 thoughts on “Thinking About Writing

  1. Hi and welcome back.

    At least yours is a boat no matter how barnacle encrusted, mine lately seems more a raft going wherever wind and tide push it. That wouldn’t be so bad except as Fisher Ames told Congress in 1795,

    “A republic, however, is like a raft: slow, ungainly, impossible to steer, no place from which to control events, and yet endurable and safe. It will not sink, but one’s feet are always wet. ”

    Or something. Good to see you 🙂

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