My current writing output seems determined to increase, no matter what I think about the subject. Currently on tap: a short rhymed piece I've had in mind for some time, installment #3 of the 'scribbled travelogue' series, and a short story.Writing here, via keyboard, is a bit of a relief for my writing hand, which cramps after long sessions of scrawling. I had forgotten about this particular plague of my collegiate years, until I realized recently that my best writing was still best drafted with pen and paper before being transferred to digital form. Slower, more methodical, and a more precise finished product resulted.

Thus my big spiral notebook has been seeing a lot of eye-time lately.

The rhymed piece is more painful going than the prose; the effort to concatenate meaning and image into the smallest number of words—without losing meaning, intonation, or allusion—is time-consuming to say the least.

Sometimes I think I scratch out ten words for every five I get down on paper. It is frustrating and rewarding; I wish it came easier for me, but, at the same time, it wouldn't mean half as much to me as it does now precisely because of the effort entailed in making it happen.

"Precise." I have always loved that word: its meaning, its sound. The second syllable, like sharpened scissors slicing neatly through paper—in fact, it probably bears some vague relation to the word "incise," to cut. Both words have an undercurrent of accuracy, deliberate action, care, and lack of haste.

When I'm "on"—the state of mind that makes the words flow and the writing easy—what I seek is a combination of both. Precision of word and phrase choice turns a body of writing into an instrument of investigation of the human psyche. The words and phrases serve to slice down into the meat of the mass of humanity, to peel back the unimportant, and to bring forth the important into clear view.

When it comes—when the words come, and it all works—it is the greatest feeling I have ever known. Looking at something written and knowing that not only is the general meaning right, but all the shades of meaning are falling in the intended spectrum and all of the connotations are right—is exquisite. In all the words of the English language to denote rightness, that one says it best.


It makes you forget the cramped hand muscles and the exhausted brain. The words, as always, last longer.

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