By Lorraine Archer
Titles like these make my fingers do the writer’s polka across the keyboard. I try to make them stop, but my ten dancing digits refuse to listen. I watch in quiet disbelief, as my keyboard-tapping fingertips fill my computer screen with ridiculous sounding words and phrases. I can’t escape it. Even a simple walk down the street develops into a humor essay in my head. I absorb everything around me like a dry sponge in water.
When I hear an interesting name, I panic for a pen to scribble it down on the back of my hand. That name will develop into a new character when I get home. If I see something on television that sparks my imagination, I’ll carve a reminder into a wad of chewing gum with a toothpick. I’ll use that idea to write a short story on the weekend. When I read a line in a book that I find deliciously descriptive, I copy it out in my inspirational journal of writing phrases. In times of a writing code red, I will force myself to repeat a phrase or two out loud, to comfort myself should I become overwhelmed with writer’s distress.
My fingers type! They pound and hammer away at my unsuspecting keyboard until I am left with no choice but to save their results on a floppy disk. Frustrated at my lack of control, I resent having to make a backup of the work on my hard drive. I decide that I desperately need inspiration and decide to break for a frappa-cappa-mocha-latte. My mouth begins to water at the memory of the chocolate gooey sweetness. I grab a sweatshirt and race out the door, still baffled by my last word count.
While waiting in line at the cafe, I start to feel the eyes of several people examining me like a bad science project. I try to ignore them. I silently scream at them to leave me alone! Can’t they see that I’m a writer with a piece of work in progress?
I order my decadent coffee creation and reach into my jeans for some money. As I dive into my pocket, I notice the names”Sequoia” and “Dakota” scribbled on the back of my hand. Embarrassed, I quickly plunge my tattooed hand deeper into my jeans, frantically feeling around for loose change. I pull out three quarters, a lint ball and a wad of stale chewing gum molded into the shape of an anchor. I must have sculpted it last night while watching the evening news. So much for the reminder to write about news anchors having earned their names, since everything they say is heavy and drags people down.
I can still feel the eyes of several customers burning a hole into the back of my beloved “Co-ed Naked Writing” sweatshirt. With a sheepish smile, I grab my steaming drink and almost run out of the cafe. I feel my heart beginning to pound like a jackhammer. My face feels flushed. I squeeze my coffee cup with both hands to stop it from slipping from my shaky grasp, my hands slick with nervousness. My breath starts to sputter like a car running out of gas. code red! my brain silently screams at my quaking body.
Left with no other choice, I close my eyes and visualize a line from my journal. I chant out “the moonlight licked the waves around them like a flame” three times to comfort myself. I am instantly soothed by the words, their beauty having dripped from my tongue like liquid honey. Laughing at my foolishness, the whole cafe-experience develops into a humor essay in my head. I continue my walk home, satisfied with my new inspiration and ready to tackle my keyboard once again.
This is the life of a writer. Like the title of “Baggy, the Anorexic Elephant,” we can be unpredictable, taking readers on journeys of the imagination, our trunks and bags overflowing with strings of words and pages of adventures. And sometimes we can become easily wrinkled, although it usually comes upon us when we least expect it!
Lorraine Archer writes from Peterborough, Canada. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including SkyWritings, Sasee Magazine, The Globe & Mail, Fifty Something Magazine, Open Spaces Quarterly, Chronogram, Fellowscript and The Front Porch.