It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

I got some pretty solid writing in today. I’m happy with the results. It almost didn’t happen too. Well, I had the time for once … but I was driving and brainstorming my prewriting stuff like I usually do and it was just pouring out of me. My muse or whatever was riding shotgun grinning the whole time as some great stuff came bubbling out  while I was talking to myself. I typically use my phone for quick notes, the voice to text equivalent of a jot down but this was the real deal. I showed up to the test in my underwear. Looking to my muse, helpless, all I got in return was “It sucks to suck.” Thanks. Now you show up.

I raced to work and by work, more accurately, I mean a computer. I knew exactly where I wanted to start and then … it was pulling teeth. I had seen the promise land, but the doors were shut. Knowing that I’d done better off the cuff … in my car, made everything I wrote feel stilted and junky. Well, the hell with that. If the promised land slammed it’s doors shut, I’d rip ’em the hell open!

I soldiered on, gradually finding my pace and rhythm and then another funny thing happened. Whole sections just popped in there. Like Ray Stanz, they just popped in there. It must have been what every writing instructor ever has ever said about “developing your voice.” Normally, I write how I write and don’t try and alter it in any way. I mean, I want it to sound good and be creative and whatnot, but the words that came pouring out of me belonged to some other guy this morning. And I gotta say, I like that guy. I hope he comes back. I’ll be waiting around in the trees for him. Plenty of bananas to spare.

So today went great. Monday and Wednesday, though, they were a wash. Too much job-work got in the way and after 10 hour days of something else, my brain wasn’t exactly up for any more thinking. Before the muse played its little trick on me – I’m going with it. I know the muses were female in myth, but who am I to judge where my inspiration comes from. – I was thinking about two days gone when I could have been writing and it got me thinking about where the expression “That’s a wash” comes from. What’s being washed? I’m sure I could Google it and find out in a manner of seconds because we live in the 21st century, but where’s the fun in that? I’ve always been fascinated why we say and do the things we do. Like how in every post-apocalyptic setting there’s something they do because Reasons but really it’s just a misconstrued holdover from a previous era. I live for that shit!

Thinking about the wash expression and why we say it reminded me of my dad and his own idiosyncrasies. For as long as I can remember, he’s always used the expression, “six one half does the other.” Just like that. I intuited that it meant two choices being the same thing. I remember asking repeatedly what it means anyway in the hope that he’d explain it better, but he pretty much just reiterated what I already knew. Only years later – and I’m talking maybe high school or even college – did I come across the expression “six of one, half a dozen of the other.”

Suddenly it all made sense. He knew what he was talking about. He was just lazy. Don’t even get me started on his usage of “Murphy’s law.” So here’s an expression that had meaning to him and he wasn’t even saying it correctly. Didn’t matter though. Signifier and signs my friends.

And just as quickly as all of this came to mind on my drive in, I began thinking about my writing for the day and my muse appeared. I shoved all of the intellectual stuff aside to make headroom for the creative stuff. I may not have the most robust vocabulary or even be a good speller – spoiler alert: I suck at spelling – but I do love language. The entire concept is simply fascinating.

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