As someone with relatively few talents, I have tended to clutch to my heart the one or two that I possess, quietly and internally considering them an adequate raison d’être while outwardly feeling inadequate on a near constant basis. It’s a problem. The thing is, I have a hard time talking to people. The thing is, if you put me in front of a keyboard, I suddenly feel capable of a greatness that I do not otherwise possess. The thing is, what is important is not that I actually achieve any sort of greatness on a regular basis but that I am actually occasionally capable of it. Or, at least, that’s what I tell myself.
Oh God, I’m being neurotic again.
Anyway. A lot of my thoughts come to me in the shower. I’m not sure what it is about the shower that makes it a great fermentation chamber for thought, but it works for me. Steam, hot water, nice smelling soaps, time, that pitter-patter sound of water falling against the FRP siding in my ghetto shower all combine together to create a time and space in which thoughts can bounce around and sometimes coalesce in my otherwise scattered mind. This morning, among various non-thought reflections (ugh, tired…. ugh, back hurts… ugh, morning… etc.), I thought about the process of writing, how I write, how other people write (how would I know?), and whether I can ever know that what I write is actually true.
I edit while I write, a simultaneous process. I’ll start to write a sentence and then I’ll stop for a while, looking up and to the right, twitching my fingers about, tapping them lightly on the keyboard, perhaps creating a connection between the pitter-patter sound of the keyboard and the sound of water in my shower. Who knows? The process happens so quickly, so unconsciously, I suppose. It’s slippery, like a well-used bar of soap. Writing, to me, is a process of taking my often nebulous ideas about my self or my life and translating them into English, the only language I know.
It is definitely a matter of translation. For example: when walking in the rain earlier this afternoon, I reflected on the singular pleasure I experience when rain falls with a light splat on my nose. The transcript of that thought would read only “Hm! Nice!” A film of that thought sequence would include a close up on my nose while the rain drop went SPLAT! Then would follow a montage of other moments from my life when rain has fallen softly on my nose: SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT! ending with a lingering shot of me smiling slightly at the fond, wry memory. The film would be a very accurate depiction of my actual thought patterns–they tend to be more visual than verbal–but I just don’t have a videographer following me around at every moment helping me to make sense of my thoughts. When I write, I think back on those moments that are true, and I attempt to take them out of the realm of indistinct impressions and into the bright, definite, black and white world of written language. I hope that these moments remain true throughout the translation process, but how can I know?