I’m Thinking

Practice Makes Progress, the title track, is applies quite well to writers. Like me.

I’ve stopped the disclaimers.  No more, “Wanna be.”  I don’t say, “Later I’d like to be.”  Now I just lay my hopes on the line and say it:  I’m a writer.  Never mind that I have yet to be paid for a single word.  Forget the part about homeschooling two kids, raising those same kids 24/5.5, and having a generally disobedient, wandering mind.  Now, at least in print, I say that I’m a writer.

But mostly I’m not writing.  I’m thinking.

When I’m reading, my thoughts spin off to writing ideas.  Listening to a sermon or talk leads to plenty of writing fodder.  Conversations with friends aren’t exempt — commonalities in experience often cause me to consider a bigger picture.  Waking from dreams provides a time of half awake, half asleep kind of space that is perfect for percolating thoughts, although many fine ideas are lost to a return to slumber or the complete transition to the day.

Then there’s the random thinking.  The thoughts that come when I’m cooking a meal, watering the garden, or watching a child sleep.  These are when my best writing ideas spring forth, for these are the ordinary times of my life.  And that’s what I write about.  Ordinary stuff.  That giant weed in the garden, the one whose roots seem to reach bedrock below, may provide the metaphor for a blog post here.  Cleaning the shower, cleaning out the cat box.  It’s all fair game, and my mind can connect that mundane to other mundane or even to the divine.  If I’m lucky, the connection works.  If not, ah well.  Back to thinking.

I spend a fair amount of time stuck in my head , working out thoughts.  I write and rewrite up there, rattling ideas around until they either sound right or run into a deadend.  If I have the time, I head to the computer or iPad.  If I don’t have time, these thought too often slip off to irretrievable neural pathways.  Now if I were a bit wiser, I’d carry a notebook and write down those thoughts, but my implementation on that front are lacking.  Still, the thinking a musing seems to take much more time than the writing.  Even mid-compostion I’ll push away from the keyboard to warm up my coffee, check the laundry’s progress, pet the cat, mutter to myself. (That last one bugs the boys a bit.)  Perhaps I have the ratio wrong, but at this point in my writer’s life, there’s more thinking going on than writing.  Ah.  Perhaps that’s why I maintain my amateur status.

So when I listened to folk musician’s David Roth‘s newest CD, Practice Makes Progress, I took the first track, My Work Day, for several spins.  Due to copyright laws, the limitations of my blogging system, and a lack of technical know-how, the song itself can’t be posted here, but do search away. (Addendum:  Go here for a legal listen.)  I’ve posted the words, copyright info included, because they exquisitely express how I feel about writing.

My Work Day © 2003 David Roth, Jana Stanfield, Sue K. Riley  (Addendum:  Go here for a listen.)

I sit around, I stare in space
I take a break, a torrid pace
Back to work, I rub my eyes
A workaholic in disguise

Discipline’s my middle name
Time to take a nap again
Maybe one more cup of tea
“ All My Children” is on TV

I’m thinking, I’m thinking
I’m thinking, I’m thinking
I’m thinking what I might want to say
Welcome to my work day

Back to work, my daily grind
Tripping through a cluttered mind
Pet the cat, clean the fridge
How to write a perfect bridge

I’m thinking, I’m thinking
I’m thinking, I’m thinking
I’m thinking what I might want to say
Welcome to my work day

Time to use a different chord
Better not go overboard
Keep it simple, tight and terse
Find my way back to the verse

There’s the phone, not now, I’m blazing
Brand new trails … of navel-gazing
Hemingway was so inspiring
Long time thinking, short time writing

I’m thinking, I’m thinking
I’m thinking, I’m thinking
I’m thinking what I might want to say
Welcome to my work day

Writing is far from being my work day, but that’s the direction I’m heading.  Right after I pet the cat.  And, shh.  I’m thinking.


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