In the bottom of my Bag of Holding* is an ever-evolving wad of paper—envelopes, receipts, old computer cards, post-its, torn pages from legal pads, and a couple of abused memo books—all scribbled over with bits and pieces of plot and characters and dialogue and what ifs and a lot of miscellaneous stuff that I had to write down, lest they be lost forever.
I swiped the idea from Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers, who mentioned in Bird by Bird that she carries a file card and a pen in her back pocket at all times to catch moments. My wardrobe, such as it is, has a distinct lack of back pockets, and the kids tend to disappear my stock of file cards no matter where I hide ’em, but I do my best.
And it mostly works, though if I were more efficient, I’d transcribe these precious jewels each night and add annotations so I’d have half a chance of remembering why I thought it was vitally important to stop whatever I was doing, scrawl “cerumen = earwax” on my Visa bill in green ink, and save it until it turned into bagmulch.
It’s a cool fact and all, but after a week or longer—I have to start dating these things, or paying my bills in a timelier fashion—I’m not sure whether I wanted to gross out the kids, pass it along to the library’s Trivia Program Committee,** or write a story about the weirdly disgusting CeruMen who attack Hygiene City and are fended off by the Sonic Q-Tip Squad, until it’s discovered to be a terrible misunderstanding, because on a smaller scale, cerumen is actually the body’s way of cleaning its own ears, like oysters do with nacre and irritants,*** and the aliens only wanted to help keep the streets clean.
Which is marginally better than the plot I’m currently tinkering with, but never mind that—it’s the uncertainty that’s getting to me.^ I mean, maybe that bit of whatever had sparked something that would transform the American Literary Landscape™ ^^ or at least get me a book deal.
Okay, probably not—though the CeruMen thing might . . . nah—but it’s a new way of spinning my wheels without the pesky responsibility of forward motion, and I can’t possibly have too many of those.
And it netted me a post, so I’m calling it a provisional win. Even if the one I forgot was better.
How do you spin your wheels?
*Calling it a purse is like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch—technically true, but not sufficient unto the purpose.
**The Trivia Program was two months ago. Just sayin’
*** Except pearls are more like luminous boogers, really, which is precisely how I feel about oysters, so it all fits together nicely. Yeah, I probably
did want to gross out the kids.
^I should be used to it by—oh, Lord, I just realized that these footnotes are the cerumen for my stray thoughts. Yick!
^^In a good way, so hush