When conversations turn to writers, inspiration is inevitably mentioned. No one knows how it happens but everyone agrees it is what a writer seeks. I think they are dead wrong. I do not need inspiration. Everything my five senses, plus E.S.P., encounter provides inspiration. What I need is protection from the onslaught of my gift. I know that sounds absurd but such is the reality of my life. I am a writer. Most people choose what they do. I have no choice. I can be a fireman, a nurse, an actress, or an astronaut. I still have to write.
The mind of a writer is a tyrant and no respecter of time or place. The most innocent of comments churns the creative cauldron. I have written on the backs of envelopes, during the sermon, on my hand. I can talk to you while writing in my head and you will never know it. There are warnings about texting while driving. No one warns about writing while operating a vehicle.
My protector is an elf named P. Q. He stands three and 7/8” tall, wears a black bombazine soutane with crushed agate vertical stripes and a sapphire yarmulke. Quill and parchment in hand, he takes charge of the chaos and stores every thought I have and every word I write. His whispery voice echoes all.
Long storage cabinets made of ebony, three feet tall, six drawers each with ruby knobs, are his charge. He climbs an antique oak library ladder to each drawer and calls on a cousin of Hercules for the heavy work.
As each one is filled, P. Q. starts another. As long as I live there will be an ebony cabinet waiting. There is no need for an index or table of contents. Memory and imagination along with P.Q.’s echoing voice navigate better than any G.P.S. could.
P.Q. monitors those drawers carefully. The writer’s salvation and damnation are found there. When the drawers are closed, there is no turmoil. The writer’s mind can be still. There is no need for protective clothing or being sure the word-drowning policy is in force.
Life assumes an orderly pattern; breakfast at seven, a walk in the park, afternoons with aged aunts, dinner at eight. The days flow until a twinge of tomorrow, a case of the utmost absurdity, or the mind numbing certainty of eternity causes the ebony to tingle.
Tingling ebony translates to trembling drawers. The pesky words assail until they find a crack. Then in an unrelenting torrent, they assail the writer.
His life is words. He cannot live with them or without them. Their constant and demanding presence suffocates. The writer, gasping, fights for air among the verbs, nouns, adjectives. Abbreviations pelt him with periods and sling arrows at him. It is said time and tide wait for no man. The writer learns early the same is true of demanding words.
In self defense the writer grabs pencil and paper, keyboard at the ready. He struggles to give the intruders place.
“Me first. No! Me first! Take me! Move over, pal, I‘m next.”
Bowing to his fate, the writer surrenders. Once again in thrall of his gift.
“Molly never expected to find herself in such a situation.
In fact, she had often told Uncle George,
that it would be a cold day in Hell before he would find her…….”
I have tried not to write. I tried denial. I tried escape. I feigned deafness. I played the idiot, even changed my name. Nothing worked. Blessing or curse, words are my master and whether they bellow or whisper, I must answer their call.
I pay homage to the gods who allow me to write; knuckle-white with terror they might abandon me. All the while knowing sanity and salvation are mine thanks to P.Q., that unlikely protector in black bombazine.