Two days away from the manuscript, and that uneasy feeling starts creeping in, the tiny whisper that says, if you stop now, you’ll never get it done. Just like John, my hero, says of picking cotton, “there’s a rhythm to the work.” This is true, I suppose, of everything (unless you’re a stunt pilot, lol. There might not be a rhythm to that). Anyway, writing does have a rhythm, and the longer that rhythm is paused, the harder it is to find it again.
Well, I put the manuscript down. I swear it was just for a second (ok, two whole days somehow whizzed by). But circumstances demanded it. My son asked me to read his final undergraduate thesis. Stop right there, and realize what an honor it is when your child asks your opinion, or your help on anything. The mere fact of being asked, offers reassurance that one’s opinion matters, that one’s input is valuable. No way was I going to let him down.
The only thing was, the thesis was about MATH! I felt a little challenged, given my background in art. But I gave it a careful read. My comments read something like, “hey, there’s room for a sentence or two, explaining all these formulas…” I only hope I was helpful.
Ah, math, the universal language. The succinct, eloquent, inescapable truth. Navigating that thesis made me feel like a traveler in a foreign land. I recall years ago, roaming the streets of Athens, clutching a slip of paper, on which was scrawled an address. Keep in mind, the Greek alphabet bears little resemblance to ours. I couldn’t pronounce the words. I couldn’t pronounce the individual letters that made up the words. In fact, I couldn’t say anything except, “kalimera, milao anglika” (“good morning, I speak English”). It brought me nearly to tears. But I digress.
Solar theory was the thesis topic. Ever heard of that? Neither had I! We’re talking the inner workings of the sun— magnetic forces, instabilities, and flux ropes. (Shoes and ships and sealing wax, to this art major, apologies to Lewis Carroll). Apparently, 99.9% of the universe is plasma, by quantity of matter. I don’t know about you, but I find that amazing! What IS reality, anyway, and what are we, but tiny blips of energy, dancing briefly in the cosmos? I know, I know… Carl Sagan. But it was an inspiring read, and I felt privileged to be the i-dotter and the t-crosser.
After reading the thesis, I went back to the manuscript. It was like sitting at a piano, attempting to pick up a concerto just where it left off. Flip the coat tails, crack the knuckles… Such a big endeavor, I needed a warm-up first. So, I did what I often do—found a pithy article, plucked out some choice phrases, and turned them into a poem. I like poetry—it teaches a healthy frugality, and forces us to trim the fat from our words, keeping only the lean.
Once the poem was put to bed, I realized I needed something for the blog. Why? Mostly to say I’m still alive, that I haven’t slipped between the cracks of the couch cushions or anything, or got sucked up by a math thesis and vanished into plasma. That I am still here, still writing. Pinky promise. After all, our hero, John needs me, and the book needs me. Time to sit down at the bench, crack the knuckles… and get back to the rhythm of writing. Because if I stop now, I might never get it done.