Wednesday, 18 April 2007

astounding myself

I can be astoundingly clumsy. Physically, of course, tripping over myself and other obstacles large and small, falling off of things and down things and out of things, and so on. More than once I have looked up blearily from the ground or the rug or the flower bed or the wading pool, and asked myself, How did I get here? How did I do that? I can be socially clumsy too -- forgetting, revealing, misinterpreting, shouting when I should whisper, flirting when I should fly for my life, attempting a Scottish accent, showing up at the wrong house on the wrong day in the wrong kind of costume, carrying the wrong musical instrument.

I'm used to it, by now. It's a cross I carry willingly enough. I can even use my clumsiness to advantage every now and then -- embarrassing my children in the mall, for instance. Innocent fun.

I am much less happy about my rediscovery of professional clumsiness. This happens every time I read a copy-edited manuscript, and realize that not only did I write this drivel, but that I looked over it and approved it. What was I thinking? I ask myself, staring down at ugly prose. Or do I mean drinking? These can not be my words. Someone else has put them together. Bad fairies have crept into my manuscript and inserted astounding sentences while I was asleep. Could my mind be responsible for: Her eyes softened as she thought back through the years to when the world was fresh.

I suppose effortless, seamless wonderful writing might get dull. Like playing tennis with no net. It's only the potential of failure that makes success enjoyable. Death is the mother of beauty, after all. So I suppose it's good to know that the potential for failure -- serious failure -- is there in me. Still, what was I drinking when I wrote that? Whatever it was, I must never ever buy it again.

2 comments:

tonia celt said...

I'm willing to bet you never wrote a sentence that began "Her eyes softened..." and ended "the world was fresh."

Richard Scrimger said...

alas, yes. in fact, I've plumbed deeper depths than that. I won't share right now, though. I'm too embarrassed. RS