Injecting Perfection


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Injecting Perfection

By Nandy Ekle

 

The twisted little body lies on the slab. So far that’s all it is, just a lifeless rag. I’ve put a suture here and there to string pieces together in an effort to make the body whole. There are a few loose ends, but those will heal once the life begins.

I have a whole ward of these lifeless little things. Some of them could be beautiful; some of them could be powerful. But all of them are mine. The only thing missing from each one is a beginning sentence.

These special little wads of bodies are ideas that I’ve had for stories. They pop in my head at random times, sometimes uncanny in their ability to find the most inappropriate moments to show up. I can be in the middle of a sentence during a conversation with a complete stranger when one of these ideas knocks on the door and says, “Guess what!” Or I can be deeply immersed in reading a work with strong hands that keep my attention, except for the split second when I hear, “Sort of like what happened to me.” Music brings them, pictures bring them, people walking down the street bring them. One time an idea spoke so loud I woke up from sleep in the middle of the night to listen.

I take the idea and lay it on a slab, gluing it down with my ink and a promise saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back,” and usually I do come back and fiddle with it a little more. Occasionally, though, they get tired of waiting on me and go on to find someone else with more time – but for the most part, they wait patiently.

So I look at this one particular idea and see the marks of where I have tried to find the right sequence of words to inject into its veins that will open its eyes. I see a lot of needle marks, but still the eyes have not opened. I do remember a flutter, though. This poor little waif is in two parts, and the second part is set. The first sentence of that scene caused the eyeballs underneath the lids to roll in a curious REM fashion, but they did not open. The first part is not there yet.

From all the words that exist in language today, there has got to be a combination that works to open these eyes. And so I will continue to look for the perfect fit, that special key that will give life to this story. Then I can move on to the next.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

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Injecting Perfection


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Injecting Perfection

By Nandy Ekle

 

The twisted little body lies on the slab. So far that’s all it is, just a lifeless rag. I’ve put a suture here and there to string pieces together in an effort to make the body whole. There are a few loose ends, but those will heal once the life begins.

I have a whole ward of these lifeless little things. Some of them could be beautiful; some of them could be powerful. But all of them are mine. The only thing missing from each one is a beginning sentence.

These special little wads of bodies are ideas that I’ve had for stories. They pop in my head at random times, sometimes uncanny in their ability to find the most inappropriate moments to show up. I can be in the middle of a sentence during a conversation with a complete stranger when one of these ideas knocks on the door and says, “Guess what!” Or I can be deeply immersed in reading a work with strong hands that keep my attention, except for the split second when I hear, “Sort of like what happened to me.” Music brings them, pictures bring them, people walking down the street bring them. One time an idea spoke so loud I woke up from sleep in the middle of the night to listen.

I take the idea and lay it on a slab, gluing it down with my ink and a promise saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back,” and usually I do come back and fiddle with it a little more. Occasionally, though, they get tired of waiting on me and go on to find someone else with more time – but for the most part, they wait patiently.

So I look at this one particular idea and see the marks of where I have tried to find the right sequence of words to inject into its veins that will open its eyes. I see a lot of needle marks, but still the eyes have not opened. I do remember a flutter, though. This poor little waif is in two parts, and the second part is set. The first sentence of that scene caused the eyeballs underneath the lids to roll in a curious REM fashion, but they did not open. The first part is not there yet.

From all the words that exist in language today, there has got to be a combination that works to open these eyes. And so I will continue to look for the perfect fit, that special key that will give life to this story. Then I can move on to the next.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Drawing Sounds


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

Drawing Sounds

By Nandy Ekle

 

Several years ago (ten? fifteen?) We watched a movie called The 13th Warrior. Made from a book by Michael Crichton, it’s the story of an Arabian man who was exiled for having an affair with the wife of an influential noble. He is sentenced to be an ambassador to Northern Barbarians and through a series of events, he is banded with a tribe of Norse Warriors.

In the beginning of the story language is a curious barrier. He wants to understand the culture, but without understanding the language he cannot learn about their way of life.

He tells of traveling with these strangers and paying close attention to the sounds they make until their language begins to make sense to him. Today we call that immersion learning. As he begins to learn their tongue, they are also learning about him. Finally all the fog is cleared and they can then understand each other.

The main character is an educated man, while the Norsemen, one of them a king in waiting, are not. So once they are able to cross the language barrier, they all become friends and the young king in waiting asks a very interesting question.

“Can you draw sounds?”

Of course, he is asking if the ambassador can write. The Norseman wants to learn to read and write.

All these years later I still remember that question. Can you draw sounds.

If you think about it deeply enough you realize that all a spoken language is is sounds that we have assigned ideas to. Each sound is part of a bigger sound we call a word. When we write words we are writing symbols assigned to those sounds. Learning a new language is simply reassigning those symbols to different sounds.

As a student of court reporting and shorthand, I had to learn, in a sense, a different language. Well, it was the same sounds representing the same ideas, but the written symbols were different. And actually, the type of shorthand I learned was the same symbols, just in different orders.

Then I make myself even dizzier by wondering who decided which symbol would represent which sound? This line of thinking can go on and on and on . . .

This is one of the things I love about words.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.