Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 18, 2008

Images Around my Keyboard

So there I was cleaning up a manuscript at long last, feeling good, jovially mixing sports metaphors. I stumbled during some of those last laps, and will stumble again, but I got back on track, and will get back on track again. I can see the finish line getting nearer. Not near enough, maybe. It’s hardly ever near enough. But nearer.

I’m not a track person or even a runner, but sports metaphors slip in, especially when I’m not doing my most vigilant writing. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing, I do connect what I’m doing to another activity, though for me it’s not running, basketball, or skating. Many years ago, I saw an interview with Eudora Welty taken in her gracious Southern home. She walked around an elegant dining room table covered with stacks and single sheets of papers, changing their order, and, with that great accent, said that plotting, “is just like cutting out a dress.” I, too, like to move papers around, and even more years ago, made dresses from paper patterns I pinned to cloth set on a dining room table. So as I write I sometimes think of stages of dress-making from pattern-laying, to snipping, to sewing seams to the triumphant final hemming.

Other times I think hard for a new way of phrasing, and when the words fall in the right order, I remember way back to gently setting the needle of a stereo on a vinyl record, and hearing just the music I wanted. As I mull, I get a mental picture of the clunky swiveling tone arm that held the delicate needle. How it hovered. It’s strange to think that my daughter, for example, will never have such an image in her mind.

A bird outside my window lifts off, lands, and flies again. Keep going, she tells me in her birdy-y metaphory-y way. Do you have birds, memories or images that keep you company as you work?


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