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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Swing

I was about to begin with, “remember when we were kids and loved to swing at the playground?”  Then I remembered that some haven’t grown up yet and the swing has as much attraction now as it did when we were six. Anyway, remember when we loved to swing? That thick black plastic strip could heat up to nuclear temperatures in summer, but that didn’t stop us, did it? Ok, the heat made us think twice about the slide, but not the swing. The swing seat could be flipped over and it would not burn our bottoms so bad. We could tolerate hot swing seats on our butts, but not that summer sun-baked slide. Young Elementary School teachers would run and scream for us to avoid the slide—but we were too small to question the wisdom of the slide in the first place. How many years of sliding did it take until slides became shorter and made of plastic that gets no cooler in the summer sun? And then they put those bumps and ridges in to slow the descent, causing our little ones to burn their buns on the way down?

Anyway, remember when we loved to swing? We would grab the chain, one in either hand, give a little kick down in the rut carved out by other swingers and start pumping our legs, leaning backward and forward, up and down, higher and higher. Sure was fun then, or now, depending on whatever keeps a kiddie state of mind in some . . .  kids.
When it comes to writing, I feel as if I am on a swing and the ride is not as pleasant as the one in the playground when we were six. When I free write, the creative side of my brain kicks in and the words flow; but, if there is a mistake, the other side of my brain kicks in and makes the correction. This causes the technical side to swing over, even override the creative side. I swing back and forth between creative flow and the technical.

The fact that I write this on a computer makes the ride worse. As much as I enjoy writing on the computer, I also enjoy writing in notebooks but the reason I don’t write in notebooks is that I like a final product. And my handwriting is atrocious. I don’t like drafts. I should like them, but I don’t. Drafts are maps, showing “you are here and this is where you need to go.” A final draft means “arrival” but the journey has only begun. Computers tempt the transporter effect.

Writing on the computer wreaks havoc on the creative side because of the auto editor, for one. Sure I drop a typing error and backspace or misspell a word and have to correct it but I try not to correct to keep the flow going (I am free writing this now), keeping the creative tap open. I try to kill my inner editor, but by inner editor like a zombie awakened by the auto editor eats at my brain, a zombie that wants to swing. Words are underlined with red squiggles because the programs dictionary does not recognize the word, not because the word is misspelled. These optical clues send a distress call to my inner zombie editor, causing it to moan and reach out for correction. Green squiggle lines under phrases show me the sentences the computer program does not like. “Fix this”. Too bad.
When I am finished, I might go back and edit what I’ve written and will probably make a few changes. Perhaps by the time you read this, I will have edited and you will never know what was corrected or changed. That is what happens when the creative flow is shut off and the other side of the brain kicks in. I can no longer be creative when thinking technically. The ride is over.

Starting with a warm up of free writing gets the flow going and is not to be shut off until creativity is exhausted. Unlike the swing we can’t jump on the seat and just sit there. Who were friends with kids who just sat on the swing? “Get off and let me ride!” we screamed. Nor can we can’t say we are swinging when we kick out and remain suspended in mid air. Sure, it would be downright weird if that were to happen and might draw a crowd, but physics will not allow it.
I concede: the fun of swinging is the ride back and forth. Perhaps when my writing get stronger, I will enjoy the ride a little more between creativity and the technical but right now, switching back and forth is too much like work to have much fun. That zombie kid needs to go away. He’s creepy.

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