by Jennifer on November 8, 2008

If you’re a writer, you probably know how this feels.

Your hands hover just above the keyboard, and a string of words slides into your head like a runner into second. And it’s good, pretty damn good. You start to type it or write it, but before you can…

…the phone rings, or a child calls out. The oven timer goes off, or you look at the clock and hell, is it that late? and there’s nothing to do but grab your keys and go pick up the kids from school or drive to work.

You say the words over and over in your head, and you think you won’t forget the idea or the words or the clever line (where’s a pen?), but then it’s gone and you can’t get it back.

One could argue that maybe the idea wasn’t that great if it’s so easily forgotten, but I disagree.

Sometimes the perfect sentence is as fragile as a drop of water that trembles on a fingertip, reflecting the world back at you (as the really good ones can). But that’s where it gets tricky – the tiniest motion can send it sliding to the ground where it becomes just part of the puddle, the rain, the storm. Lost.

And you could just die. You do, a little bit, because you needed those words.

I’ve been spending my days trying to sweep up a mess of stray words and put them together, in the hope that they might become something whole. It looks close to impossible at times, and I’d settle for one true thing – even if it’s fragile – to settle on the tip of my finger, the tip of my pen, the center of my soul.

I would hold my breath if I had to, stand stone-still if that’s what it would take, if it meant the words would stay with me.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Hilary November 8, 2008 at 4:14 am

Beautifully expressed as always.

How about a mini voice recorder for times like that? Something that could just switch on and record, and you’re done before the phone rings a second time.

Hilarys last blog post..Lights, Camera, Action!

csquaredplus3 November 8, 2008 at 7:14 am

I would say this post is one of those really good drops of water that didn’t slide to the ground.

I thought you expressed this perfectly.

jenrantsraves November 8, 2008 at 7:43 am

So true!!! That is why I now keep a notebook and pen on my nightstand, in my car, everywhere. The most important places for me are my nightstand and car, because the perfect words seem to find me when I’m in “the zone”. The autopilot your brain goes into while driving, and the perfectly relaxed, about to fall asleep period.

Mrs. Chili November 8, 2008 at 8:08 am

For me, it’s less about the actual words than it is about the arc of an idea. I am a “feast or famine” writer – I’ve either go so much to say (and no time to say it) that I fear I’ll burst, or I sit in front of the blinking cursor and feel wholly inadequate because I can’t think of anything worthwhile to say.

Mrs. Chilis last blog post..F-F-Friday

Crazycath November 8, 2008 at 8:53 am

But sometimes although they are lost they give birth to other words which, when put together, are far more powerful, much better, more perfect than the original words.

Keep going. You work magic with words. It’ll come. It will.

Crazycaths last blog post..Forgiveness

Madge November 8, 2008 at 10:37 am

the thing that amazes me is that you constantly have words that string together in perfect sentences. it’s scary to think there are still others that you lost…..

Jaimie November 8, 2008 at 11:33 am


This is so true. A great sentence pops into my mind and before I can jot it down or commit it to memory some intrusive force of nature disrupts my train of thought. And just like that my wonderful line has vanished. My only consolation the realization that the one liner came from within…I’ll get another.

🙂 Jaimie

Jaimies last blog post..The Write Stuff: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Tina November 8, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Oh, yeah. This has happened to me countless times. How many times have I been laying in bed half asleep when the perfect lede comes to me for an assignment with a looming deadline only to disappear when I’m fully awake? I don’t want to think about it…

Tinas last blog post..Friday Flashback: 2005

cce November 8, 2008 at 4:55 pm

I’m constantly experiencing this fleeting moment of perceived brilliance and losing it to distraction or just plain laziness. It’s such a chore to turn on the bedroom light and jot something down when you’re settled into your cocoon but by morning it’s gone, gone, gone. Oh the mourning.

Jenn @ Juggling Life November 8, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Cheri (Blog This Mom!) turned me on to You can call the number with your perfect sentence and they will text it to you. It’s invaluable.

Heather November 8, 2008 at 7:34 pm

Oh I understand this completely. I wish I didn’t!

flutter November 8, 2008 at 11:41 pm

those words that you need? when they want to be discovered they will be impossible to ignore. Luckily for you, you have a few to spare that are equally as beautiful

RiverPoet November 9, 2008 at 8:30 am

And this is why I have yet to publish that first novel. I’m so easily distracted that it seems like I’ll never get it done.

I wish you long stretches of peace and quiet – D

RiverPoets last blog post..Once a Year

fancy feet November 9, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Beautifully written.
I have been reading you for a little while now and I love your way with words.

fancy feets last blog post..Anniversary

phd in yogurtry November 9, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Some of my best lines are composed in the shower .. and then washed down the drain.

Or thought right before I fall asleep and then get lost in dreamland.

So, I don’t consider myself a writer, by any means, but I certainly do get how ideas escape into the void of lost memory.

phd in yogurtrys last blog post..prickly pear picking, part II

Ree November 9, 2008 at 4:59 pm

This sums up the reason I’m not a writer. Because I lose words all of the time.

But honey, you so obviously are…because you managed to convey EXACTLY those feelings.

Rees last blog post..Sharing Saturday – Misc

Anastasia November 9, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Great description! I am right there with you on this.

anymommy November 10, 2008 at 5:02 am

Perfectly said. This happens to me all the time. I get so frustrated, composing in my head in a quiet moment and then it’s gone forever. I need a secretary in the shower!!

anymommys last blog post..Lighter Than Air

Coco November 10, 2008 at 9:48 am

Perfectly said.

I really need to keep a pen and paper with me at all times, because those inspired words that I half-dream at 3:46 AM seem to slip away at sunrise.

It’s really quite depressing.

Cocos last blog post..I’ll Take Starsky, You Take Hutch.

Suzanne November 10, 2008 at 3:08 pm

This happened to me just this morning, as I was getting dressed for work I thought of a blog topic I wanted to write about. By the time I got to work, I’d forgotten what it was……..genius is fleeting, or alzheimer’s is setting in….

Carrying a little moleskine with you at all times is the perfect place to catch these little gems, I’ve got one in my purse.

apathy lounge November 10, 2008 at 5:44 pm

You’ve just described my life to a T. Also, I find myself feeling this way when the evening has gone on too long and I’m too tired to try and commit my thoughts to the blog. I don’t know how others do it.

apathy lounges last blog post..Mispronunciations: Part Deux

ByJane November 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm

I was just thinking the other day that those words are probably still somewhere inside me. They’ll come out at some other time. Probably. And maybe I’ll need them more then.

ByJanes last blog post..Come All You People Now, Smile on Your Brother…

Kimberly November 10, 2008 at 7:52 pm

I can’t tell you how many paragraphs I’ve “composed” in the shower or driving to work or where ever only to have them slip away when I actually sit down at the computer to write them. So. Frustrating.

Kimberlys last blog post..Next mood swing in 10.6 seconds

Daryl November 11, 2008 at 12:03 pm

I hope you remember. I wanted to give you good advice for remembering but before I could, I forgot

Daryls last blog post..toonsday husbandisms

Ann November 11, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Can’t tell you how often this happens to me – just happened the other night, and now the words are gone, GONE I tell you!

Anns last blog post..The Man

we_be_toys November 11, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Good god I know that feeling oh so well – that’s exactly the way it works. I love the image of an idea’s fragility – it’s perfect. Of course, I get all my best ideas in the shower, where there isn’t anything to write on.

we_be_toyss last blog post..A Picture Takes The Place of Words

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