Thursday, November 5, 2009


There are occasions when the human aspect of the writer takes a cue from the computer and/or computer operating systems.  With this cue firmly in mind, the human aspect of the writer does what the computer operating system does--it crashes.  If you had any relationship with the PC, you were aware of the ominous BSOD, the blue screen of death, which pulses with insistent menace before your eyes.  You try such time-tested mechanisms as making sure you are plugged in, which is to say, determine if you have had sufficient coffee.  When that does not appear to be the cause, you try rebooting, which is in this case turning to another scene in a work in progress, even beginning to laugh at the potential for discovering that the entire crash was the result of trying to write a scene that was not needed and wouldn't work for any of your favorite writers.  The laughter is a knowing laughter as a few sentences come forth, but then flutter and stop.

Crash, after all, means crash; the operating system is down, do you hear?  Down.

Desperate measures are needed.  Radio has its occasional Emergency Warning tests, with sounds emerging from the speakers that remind you of deep, determined snoring, followed by the reassuring, This was only a test.  Had there been an emergency, you would have been directed to the Emergency Warning System.  For computer emergency, you go to Tech Support, telephone calls to individuals with engaging Madrasi or Bengali accents that put you in mind of curry.  You will please to be turning off your computer. 

Tech support for the human condition is a combination of music, any music but Bach, which seems so compelling to you that it draws you into it for an examination of it and experience of it that demands your full interest and precludes the precious quality you have come to recognize as associative.  Music and reading.  While it is true these days that you have been on a particular Haydn and Mozart bent, finding each composer a kind of trampoline that sends your spirits soaring, they at the moment seem lackluster and so you turn to jazz, which in addition to its swinging beat captures the essence of a spontaneous pursuit of a harmonic puzzle, aspects that should help.  But don't.

This process has not consumed that much time.  You are still playing with options, one of which can be pulling forth an editorial job awaiting your attention so that you can cope with it and return it to its rightful owner, the better to send an invoice.  But you hesitate because this editing activity is something you want to be as up for in its way as the up is when you are composing.  And the editorial projects are uniformly good, so you cannot rely on your potential for irritation with the writer for missing observations or dribbling aimlessly instead of the metaphorical drive to the basket or the even more metaphorical long shot from the three-point range.

There is the equivalent of the lovely feature on your MacBook, the Force Quit, a deliberate shutting off of a program that doesn't work, allowing you to return to the flow of energy before the crash. You have sitting atop the chair that is as close to an In-box as you will have in a non-salaried position a longish letter seemingly inchoate in its details, digressions, and assertions, a work that seems to expect something of you, some sort of response, which you realize involves two separate acts, the full-out first response, then the revised edition that removes the cholers.  

Thus do you apply Force Quit, which in this case is finding something so laden with feeling, intensity, implication that you write your way back to the process that has done so well by you.

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