It is the forty-second day on my island, and I have a new concern.
The end of this lockdown may well be in sight. Some restaurants have shaken their phoenix ashes and a few non-essential stores are accepting patrons. The slow return to some measure of normal may have begun, depending on luck and common sense (the latter of which provides me only the most guarded of hope).
Despite this, the sheltering carries on for now. From an emotional standpoint, I think I can handle social distancing for a while longer. From a writing standpoint, I am in crisis mode. I am running out of subject matter.
(Aside: I sometimes wonder if all writers try to throw a Wizard of Oz-like curtain over their craft. Writing is backbreaking labor, but the final product almost always feels effortless, as if the author had discovered the work whole rather than crafting it syllable by syllable. Make it seem like you heard the whole story in a bar, Ernest. Hide all the sweat and blood behind a veneer of effervescent simplicity, Scott. Pretend that every phrase is as inevitable as the rising of the moon, Virginia. I doubt the process was ever that easy for any of them. The art of writing is like the proverbial sausage factory with one exception. Most of what the food works produces is palatable. Most of what an author churns out is gristle.)
To the matter at hand – for the next stretch of days, in order to keep the flow of these notes going, I will try to filter my thoughts through a word chosen in alphabetical order.
So today on my island I am feeling Abecedarian, a charming adjective that means, well, alphabetical. It looks like a made-up nursery word (think ‘a-b-c-d-arian), but apparently it first saw light of day in the late second century CE in some serious Latin poetry.
For the record, I’ve already given thought to ‘b’, ‘c’ and maybe ‘d.’ I can only hope that we are all sprung free before I must go too much further. I don’t relish finding a suitable word for ‘x’. Nor I’m sure do any of us want to be inside reading these in another twenty-four days or so.
In the end, the sausage that I am about to present may not be edible. But it spares you from hearing about my nursery school years (I once failed apple sauce. I have no recollection of how, but it must have been gruesome.) or of the history of jigsaw puzzles (Odd fact – no one knows the derivation of the word ‘puzzle’. It is itself an enigma). And maybe before too many links are produced, my muses will wake from their slumber or, better still, we will be able to step out into the cool fresh air and leave our islands for good.
[This Post was adapted from a essay originally published on Facebook the day listed above]