|Laptop, Blogger, Cellphone, Tablet, and Venti Caramel Frappucino|
Tools of the Trade
(Hawaiian Odysseus photo)
Whenever my brother, Charlie, a creative and talented carpenter, is hired to construct a special project, he has to make sure that his tools are accounted for and in good working order. Without the assurance of knowing that he is fully equipped to do a good job, he cannot and will not leave home.
Similarly, I am ill-equipped and dysfunctional without my tools of the trade.
I cannot speak for other bloggers, so I want to make perfectly clear that everything I write in this post are the things that work for me.
With tongue in cheek, but also with a degree of seriousness, the photo above depicts 10% of my tools. The other implements are 80% divine inspiration (a fancy way to describe God kicking me off the couch) and 10% raw nerve.
The laptop, of course, is a biggie. These computer keys open up portals to a myriad of worlds in my universe. In the next life, I imagine I will be a travel writer--winging my way from galaxy to galaxy and posting up like a small forward for the Master Editor's heavenly newsletter. Knowing me, I will boldly ask God to forgo the feather quills and give me the newest Dell notebook instead. There's something about the tap-tap-tapping of keystrokes that contributes greatly to my daredevil blogging. Wow! I actually mentioned God and daredevil in the same paragraph.
My former English professors and grade school teachers would advise me to create rough drafts and use outlines. Personally, my comfort zone is predominantly comprised of free fall writing--you know, jump out of the airplane with a bare minimum parachute and see where the air currents take me. Some days, they're balmy trade winds; other days, tyrannical typhoons. Either circumstance finds me landing on my feet with a pretty decent post. I'm happy with my own personal voice, and that's what matters most of all.
(A distracting aside: Some of my best stuff started out with a first sentence, perhaps even a first paragraph...nah! make that a first page! of nothing but aimless wandering. Then again, maybe that's what the meditationalists try to inspire--an emptying of the mind. A mental purge. Throw-up on paper. And then the purity and clarity of creation can take place. Who knows? I'm just aimlessly wandering and getting a kick out of taking you along for the ride.)
One of the funniest sitcoms on television that entertained millions of fans for years was contrived to look like aimless wandering. Seinfeld. It was (and, via syndication, continues to be) a brilliantly written series. Why? Because instead of contrived situations that comprised the themes of other shows, Seinfeld dealt with life's minutiae. And made us laugh over the small things.
As I fly from galaxy to galaxy some future eon, I will realize all the more that everything on earth was about small things. God is no dummy. He loves good entertainment.
The cell phone and notebook to the right of my laptop make for good communication.
It's nice to get a phone call every now and then. Kinda reminds me of that movie, Poltergeist, where the little girl gets trapped in another dimension and the only contact her family has with her is through a static-stricken television set. Sometimes, I get so far off in my own little wold that I need someone to throw me a rope.
The writing tablet isn't there for me to draft my next paragraph. It's there for me to have mindful clutter. Let me explain.
My brain is constantly on overload. There hasn't been one conversation with my wife where I didn't leave her at some point and go somewhere else in my head. I have not gotten any better with time. Bless her heart, she thinks I am listening better. I'm just a better actor and pick up on cues faster. Some people speed-read. I speed-listen. Scientists call it ADD. To me, a fancy label like that just doesn't ADD up. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Actually, I could have, but it was a good filler.
To put it simply, I have been so used to having a full spectrum of split screens playing in my head that I would honestly be lost without the blessing of mental multi-tasking.
So, on my tablet today, I wrote notes about hooks I ordered from my wholesale vendor in Colorado (see: http://stores.ebay.com/Lords-of-the-Fly); the cost of my Venti Caramel Frappucino for tax purposes; and today's eBay listings.
Without ADD, I would go nuts!
The frappucino is a treat...a reward, actually...for one more week of being a halfway decent human being, for working hard at the bagel shop, and for surviving, period. Plus, Starbucks just happens to be promoting a half-price special on frappucinos.
Caffeinated drinks aren't good for my health, they tell me, but it sure nourishes my attention deficit disorder, and without ADD, I can't mentally function. Know what I mean? Of course you don't.
The predominant tool is a dependence--a lot of times, stubbornly given--on God to move that huge writer's block for me. Without words, and often without any awareness whatsoever, I pray.
When my son, Ryan, was about two years old, I stuffed one of my socks with the other one and taught him how to swing it like an old-fashioned slingshot as we played David and Goliath. I'll let you adjust your ADD long enough to figure out which one of us was Goliath. Before the little pebble (actually, the balled up portion of the sock) connected with the big giant's head, Ryan was to say, "God, give me strength!" And then he'd wallop my head a good one...not too shabby, given his young age, and definitely reinforced by my outrageously loud roar as I fell to the living room floor. The first time wasn't so bad, but as I was to learn with both my children, one of their favorite sayings came to be, "Do it again, Daddy! I wanna do it again!" That's the part that literally hurt!
The focal point of the last paragraph was the simple prayer: "God, give me strength!"
I can't begin to tell you how many times our family has uttered that prayer, verbally or spiritually spontaneously, over the past two decades. What I can tell you is that God, in all His supernatural ADD, never failed to answer us in the affirmative.
So that brings me to the last tool.
But before I go into that, I just realized I forgot something. I'm keeping this real, folks, and not doing much editing except for grammatical, punctuational, and spelling corrections.
You wouldn't be able to read this post--or any part of my blog, or anybody else's, for that matter--without the graciousness of our host, Blogger.
In fact, for much of yesterday and part of today, Blogger was kaput! And I was really frustrated and lost. That little grain of sand, that irritant in my psyche, was giving me such a pain, and I did not have the canvas upon which I could vomit my words and somehow stumble into something I could feel good about calling literary art.
Thank goodness it finally got fixed, whatever the problem was.
So, while I pretty much take it for granted, I am very grateful for the free service that Blogger provides countless others and me. Blogger is indeed a very significant tool of my trade.
Finally, there's the ingredient of raw nerve.
There has to be an element of boldness in order for creativity to find an outlet. It takes guts to spill one's guts. (Silly imagery, I know, but therein lies the raw nerve.)
One cannot reach for the stars without first daring to jump.
The craft of blogging, and again I boldly walk out onto that proverbial limb because I've only been doing this for five months, involves taking risks...sometimes, huge risks.
I face my insecurities and sometimes my personal demons every time I sit down and tap-dance with my fingers on the keyboard.
Somehow, on the wings of a "God, give me strength!" prayer, and with the help of my trusted tools, I get the job done.