Friday, November 30, 2012

Packing light

I sit here in my comfy chair in the college library with my laptop on my lap and I look busy although I'm really not, mostly I'm just daydreaming, or, to put a finer gloss on it, thinking, although that may be putting too fine a gloss on the froth of half-baked thoughts that pop up in my mind and then burst like bubbles. The occasional colleague will walk by and assuming something more substantial is going on will ask, "What are you working on?", expecting another book, perhaps, and deciding I'm just being coy when I shrug and say "Nuthin'."

Twenty books, a thousand Boston Globe essays, a hundred magazine or journal essays and book reviews, and it's all over. I've squeezed the last crafty words out of my brain, or at least the last that anyone is willing to pay for. It was a good ride, but it required more energy and discipline than I'm now able to muster. "What are you writin'?" "Nuthin'."

The older I get the more I become enamored of "nuthin'." A ripping good yarn may take a thousand pages, but that's too heavy a load to carry these last few miles. If I can't say it in 300 words it's probably not worth saying. I notice there's a new book out on the best seller list called Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. I haven't read the book, but its title could have been borrowed from an old post here. Brevity is the wit of soul.

And that, my word counter says, is 300 words. Enough for a nod to Mary Oliver. Weeds in a vacant lot, a few small stones. Just pay attention.