By C. L. Beck
There’s no doubt I’m giving away my age by mentioning this, but a number of years ago there was a song released by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel called Why Don’t You Write Me. It’s one that easily becomes an ear worm.
Have you ever had an ear worm? In case you’ve been infected but didn’t recognize it for the insidious bug that it is, an ear worm is a tune that gets into your mind and repeats itself over . . . and over . . . and over . . . and over . . . and . . . well, you get my drift.
The problem I have is that it’s not my subconscious repeating that phrase; it’s those danged voices in my head. Ah yes, I can see you’re already glancing furtively to the side and wondering if it’s time to call in the little guys with the white coats—the ones with a straight jacket that’s custom fit to my size.
No need to act in haste. Let me explain. There’s a fact all writers will freely admit on Oprah—albeit with a mask over their face and a voice changer in the producer’s control booth. The characters about whom we write have lives of their own. They can be quite persistent when we’re writing about them, often taking paths we didn’t intend, doing things of which we disapprove, saying dialogue we don’t want and sometimes even killing off the heroes that we created.
When we aren’t writing about them, they’re even more insistent. They bug us when we’re awake, give us insomnia when we try to sleep, and when we’re finally so exhausted we nod off, they infiltrate our dreams.
One writer I know sent out a plea for help, asking what she could do to quiet the voices in her head. The suggestions ran the gamut from hot baths and soft music, to hot chocolate and rock and roll.
Well okay, maybe I exaggerate slightly. No one mentioned hot chocolate and rock and roll, but if I’d thought of it, I would have.
Other authors suggested keeping a pad and pen, or an AlphaSmart word processor by the bed in order to jot down ideas and characters as they came to mind. I thought I’d try that. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a pen that actually writes and I don’t own an AlphaSmart. However, I came up with a reasonable solution.
Last night when those voices kept me awake by asking why don’t you write me, I finally silenced them. I picked up the Kleenex and crayon that I’d placed on the nightstand and wrote down everything they said.
Then I took my Haldol, blew my nose, turned out the light and went to sleep.