But they’re not just words, are they?
When you pull yourself up to a slot machine in the casino, drop the coins then reach for the lever, you don’t pause at the top praying for any old numbers? You don’t want just numbers. You want magic numbers.
Writers play a tricky game of balance between control and surrender. Perhaps it looks like we sit down and we carefully control the words, stringing them together just so, building a piece of work with precision and care. But we’re more akin to the woman at the slot machine with a bag of tokens in her lap than we are to an engineer or carpenter. In fact, if we don’t lock up our engineers and carpenters until we’re ready for phase 2—the editing—, we run the risk of never even playing the game, never having words to edit.
We’d like to think we have more control than that. Sometimes writers can bully and corral their words, maybe even manage to pull something off by force. But more often than not, our readers see the skid marks when we shove the words into place, when we don’t surrender the impulse to control and edit.
Just Words on a Page
Face it. Anyone can sit down at the slot machine, drop a coin, and pull the lever. Anyone can throw words on the page. We even have AI software that can do it for us.
The magic of our words aligns when we know our place and process.
- The machine: butt in the chair
- The coin: the investment of time and faith
- The lever: surrendering control to gears and cogs we’ll never see
Not everyone has the patience for the long play, the determination to show up day after day, the stamina to stay. And that’s okay. Not everyone needs to enter the casino. But writers and anyone driven by creative passion don’t have a choice. Play or die.
A writer will spend every last coin, every token, every breath. Just for the words, just for magic words can bring.
©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023
Love this and so absolutely true. We have to write…it’s like breathing totally necessary for life.
Writers know the pain of not writing, of carrying those words and ideas around without release. Play or die is a great description. Alana ramblinwitham
Pressure cookers! That’s what we are.
Pennie, you’ve described the writing process perfectly!
Not writing is painful!
And painful for those around us! I become ridiculously grumpy.