Thursday, July 20, 2006

Not better the second time around.

Last night, I was cruising through the postings on Pittsburgh Bloggers and decided to make comment on one of them. You can read the blog at Michael P. O'Connor site but what was said and my response are not important to this particular blog. No, this is about the creative process.

After writing my comment and submitting, it was rejected because Mike had added a filter to his blog to combat SPAM. One of the words I had used in the posting was on that restriction list and was rejected. I tried the back button to re-edit my posting but my text was gone. Lost to the aether.

An hour later, after driving my wife to pick up her car at the shop, I returned to my computer and attempted to recreate my posting with some simple editing to get the posting past the censor. It was futile. Sure, I made many of the same points as my original attempt but the muse was gone. I don't think my second attempt was half as good as the first one.

For me, writing is easy. Sort of. When I get an idea in my head and start writing, if flows out of me. It's like an extemporaneous speech that takes on a life of its own. It's usually my best work and I do very little substantive editing. But, if I have to come back to something, if I am interrupted or delayed or think too much about it, the result isn't quite as good. And that happens often. I ride my bike and compose essays in my head. I can't write them down so that first draft, the best stuff, is often lost. I've tried some techniques to keep from loosing that spark but they ultimately don't work.

Sometimes, I go over things repeatedly in the hopes of keeping the best elements fresh in my mind until I can get somewhere to write them down. The blog you are reading now started last night as I lay awake in bed thinking about having lost the initial post. I went through two additional drafts on my bike ride into work and another on the way home. For all that repetition, I may have captured some of what I really should have posted last night when I first thought of it.

It was suggested to me to use a tape recorder so that I could record my compositions immediately but it didn't work. As soon as I pressed the button to record, my mind emptied. Perhaps if I had a voice activated recorder that was always attached, like those people with Bluetooth cell phone headsets, I could just raise the volume of my talking to myself and capture it. Of course, I hate hearing myself on tape so I'd have to feed it into a voice recognition and transcription software.

What I really need is some magical device that will record my internal monologue for later editing and compilation. It'd be like those little yellow boxes that appear in the corners of comic book frames.

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