(Tools of the Trade: Part I)
By C. L. Beck
There's no doubt in my mind that early cavemen had their share of writers. Only a writer would be so driven to put his thoughts down for posterity that he'd write them on the walls. (Please don't even consider including people who write on public restroom walls in this category—although I'm sure their I.Q. is positively pre-historic.)
I've recently pondered the whole concept of early pictographs. What story lines were burning in pre-historic minds, waiting to be written? I'll bet they kept the writer tossing and turning on his stone bed at night.
What about writer's block? When my mind is bereft of ideas, staring at a small, blank computer screen puts it into permanent deadlock. Imagine the writer's block they got staring at a thirty-five foot, blank wall!
Today's writers have a number of genres to choose from, which makes you wonder what genre cave-dwellers favored. Judging from the writing on the walls, it was either self-help thrillers or zoo-keeping instructions.
Modern authors need to be aware of not only the mental picture their words create, but also, for the sake of editors, the format in which they're written. Did cave-dwellers have to use correct formatting as well? And what would that be, "Indent one rock; place one extra crack between pictographs"?
What about critiquing? I can see them now, getting together in little roaming bands that went from cave to cave, giving critiques. They'd use beet juice to make comments like, "Good job, Grunt. Your picto-story, 'The Saber-Toothed Tiger that Could' was great. You should have used a curly-q instead of a straight line in the second pictograph, though."
Lastly, we need to consider the matter of the pictograph paint. Research shows that early man mixed fat or blood with ground vegetable matter to create their ink.
That's interesting . . . fat, huh? The biggest fat thing in those days was the Wooly Mammoth and what writer would want to tangle with him to get a little blubber? I'm sure it was even harder to get him to donate blood. It does make one skeptical about the research.
Then again, you have to wonder what type of vegetable matter was around that long ago. Oh, I know. It could only be zucchini. In fact, before grinding it into ink they probably used the end of the summer, big as a baseball bat zucchini to club the Woolly Mammoth over the head and steal his fat.
I have to say, even though we have no way to know what the stories were really about, we should be grateful for those early writers. They've left behind a written history for us to ponder and set an example for writers of the future.
There is one other thing they should've done for us, however. They really should have warned us about that darn zucchini.