The other morning at breakfast I was reading the newspaper when my mind wandered. [Reading newspapers and eating breakfast are uncommon for me. The wandering mind is pretty much a constant. Um, where was I?] I had an idea for a post that I liked a lot. It wasn’t really novel, but I loved the imagery. “Should I jot this down right now?” I wondered to myself. “No,” I answered, “This is clearly something I can remember easily for a little while.”
I’m sure you can guess what happened. Later that morning as I sat at my computer I reminded myself, “Hey, make a note to yourself about –” And I swear it was right on the tip of my tongue. Or the tips of my fingers on the keyboard. It was RIGHT THERE and then it was gone. Vanished. Tantalizingly close but just out of reach. Damn. I hate that.
[Begin [another] digression]
I like to keep something close at hand for jotting notes to myself. Some days I would empty my pockets of a half-dozen or more notes scribbled on Post-its, the back of receipts, or whatever scraps of paper I could get my hands on when inspiration struck that day. I fell in love with my Palm Pilot [that always sounds so wrong] several years ago largely because the notepad was automatically backed up onto my computer. I replaced the Palm with an iPod Touch last year. [I still haven't found a text editor on it that backs up as easily as the Palm did, but that's a story for another time.] In the classroom I would keep a note pad or legal pad at hand to jot notes to myself. When I’m on the computer I keep a text editor open in addition to whatever else I’m working on.
In short, I’ve learned to take advantage of whatever I can to save ideas so I can work on them when I have the time and energy necessary. On the other hand, as much as I hate it when I fail to jot something down, I don’t beat myself up over it any more. I know that when I dream it up [Oh, dreams -- those are tough. It's really difficult to wake myself enough to write down an idea. It's so much easier to convince myself that I will certainly remember this in the morning. In fact, I know from experience it is far more likely that I will remember only that there was something....] Anyway, I know that when I dream it up an idea might seem like A GREAT IDEA AND MY GOD HOW IS IT THAT NO ONE HAS THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE AND IS THIS THE ONE THAT IS GOING TO BRING ME FAME AND FORTUNE EXCEPT I DON’T REALLY WANT FAME BUT THE FORTUNE, YES PLEASE. And then when I do get back to work on them I find a lot of crap. It’s part of the process of creating. Not every idea is a winner. Even good ideas need editing and refinement. So when I fail to write things down and then can’t remember them later I can be pretty sure that the odds are against it being a world-changer. And if it was, I can probably think of it again. Eventually.
[End [another] digression]
So, later on I did remember what had seemed so cool that morning. I was thinking about the way that people can be moved by words. And I pictured that as a physical motion, the words on a page pushing or pulling individuals into action. And that made me think of, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” [That, as much as anything, is how I convinced myself I would be able to remember these images without writing them down. Now that I see that sentence written out it seems ironic. Or just stupid.] And that image of the physical motion caused by words made me think of the physical motion used to record the words. So I pictured the movement of a hand with a fountain pen starting a chain reaction that leads to the movement of people. The little twitches of fingers prodding revolutions.
Not particularly novel, but not a picture I had specifically imagined before. And I liked it. [I still like it, in fact.] Even though I haven’t written with a fountain pen in years. I know that they are prized for how little effort it takes to write with one. [Less than a ballpoint pen, but ballpoints are cheap and fairly durable and I don't care when I break or lose a ballpoint no matter how much I have come to like it. I am not going to try to compare the effort of writing with a fountain pen to writing on a keyboard. Or an iPod.] But all this got me wondering what we call someone who loves fountain pens. [I had to salvage something out of all this effort after all.] The best I have found, even though it is not in my dictionary, is stylophile. If you have persevered to the end of this post, that word is my gift to you for today. I may not always move you, but I rarely show up empty-handed.
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