Friday, February 13, 2009

A Preface To Nowhere, A Chapter Of Nothing

Preface

There's this strange dialectic that happens on Fridays, usually right after candle lighting. You suddenly think of something you'd really like to do but can't on Shabbos. This then proceeds to torment you the entire Shabbos until immediately after Havdalah where you rush to whatever it was.

For a writer, this is extremely difficult. The best ideas always come on Shabbos. This makes perfect sense, of course; on Shabbos, the regular distractions from the week are gone and you actually have time and space to think (what a concept). This sort of time and space is not physical. You can't tell me - well, during the random hours of free time you have during the week, you could get the same ideas!

...No. It has to be coupled with a mental relaxation that only comes with the sweeping peace of Shabbos. I suppose that is what I meant a few posts ago when I said I write better when I don't think. It's not that I'm not thinking. It's that I'm mentally relaxed.

Some might say that I can achieve this state of mental (and emotional) relaxation even during the week if I lived out of town. And perhaps that's true - I wouldn't know. But that is beside the point entirely.

The point is - when it comes to creativity, you've got to grab onto it when it comes to you. So how can you do that on Shabbos when you can't write anything down? How can you make sure you don't lose your inspiration without also overfocusing on it on Shabbos?

Chapter One

I was particularly early for the train home today - so early, in fact, that the track had not even been posted yet. Instead of waiting around in the middle of Penn Station, staring up at the information board in perfect unison with everyone else (they all look like a herd of penguins, don't they? Standing in a miscellanious group looking up with the same tilt of the head - same to very angle degree - and the same harried expression on their faces, each one occasionally looking down at a watch and then back up again like they're in a game of wac-a-mole), I decided to hang around in the station book store.

It's a very narrow store, but deep, so I dragged my imbalanced wheelie suitcase (I can't ever let go of it or it tilts forward like it's just been kicked in the back) past the sci-fi, romance, and self-help sections until I reached the set of shelves labeled "Young Readers." I scanned the books, looking for any familiar, nostalgic titles, when I reached a somewhat messy stack at the very bottom. There, the title Johnny Tremain caught my eye. Johnny Tremain! I leaned my suitcase against the shelf and eagerly reached for the book. It was sandwiched tightly in the middle of the stack and I had to squeeze my fingers around the binding so I'd be able to pull it out. That was when I felt the most peculiar sensation.

"Is the cover made of velvet?" I wondered to myself (not out loud - just in my head). I frowned, unsure how that made sense, and gave a final tug, the book finally pulling free.

No. It was not made of velvet. But then why was it so soft?

Slowly, I lifted a hand from the binding and looked at the tips of my fingers. They were covered in layers of thick black dust. I held the book a moment longer, wondering mournfully how long the book had been wedged in that pile, unread, unlooked at, untouched. The idea made me sad. I hurriedly returned the book to the shelf and dragged my suitcase out of the store.

5 comments:

fudge said...

-yes! i remember when i used to have SONG ideas on shabbos. i would spend the whole day singing to myself some ridiculous tune to keep the words in, and by the end of shabbos, it was like the results of a musical telephone game. garg.

-eeeew, dust!

fudge said...

-yes! i remember when i used to have SONG ideas on shabbos. i would spend the whole day singing to myself some ridiculous tune to keep the words in, and by the end of shabbos, it was like the results of a musical telephone game. garg.

-eeeew, dust!

fudge said...

-yes! i remember when i used to have SONG ideas on shabbos. i would spend the whole day singing to myself some ridiculous tune to keep the words in, and by the end of shabbos, it was like the results of a musical telephone game. garg.

-eeeew, dust!

YD said...

For me, it's forgetting to pick a hangnail, scab, or piece of loose skin. That's the worst.

~ Sarah ~ said...

so true. always get good design ideas on shabbos. one idea i had walking home from shul on yom kippur night (don't know why then) but after some repetition in my mind, i managed to remember it after the chag.

if i see something that prompted an idea - like a picture in a magazine or newspaper or a phrase in a book i'll just leave it open on that page and then get back to it after shabbos.