“Ads, Ads, & Termites”: the Pearls–and Perils–of a Writer’s Mind

As you may well know, a writer’s mind is a constantly swirling inkwell.  I see, hear, read, experience things – and my mind right away wants to turn this new info into printed matter.  It’s in my genes; I come from a long line of storytellers.

After all these years I’m still trying to decide if this swirling process produces pearls or is a peril.  Is God sending these inspirations, wishing to speak through me – or is it that “muse” some people speak of that’s made chaos of what could have been my well ordered life?☺

I have dear friends whose minds seem to turn in orderly rotations around the fulcrum of “clean and neat.”  It’s deep in their genes and I admire the results they achieve in their homes.  May times I’ve decided to give up writing in favour of having a sparkling house like some others.  I edit for hours–days!–trying to achieve “clean, neat, and in order” in what I write but this doesn’t leave me time to give my physical surrounding that same care. ☹

Some women look at the world with their eyes, where I tend to see the world with my mind or imagination.  For example, if I walk through my house and see light shining in the windows, I might think about doing an article on light versus darkness; my friends will see that the window needs cleaning and get to it.  Or they make a mental note to do it later–and remember.

I make notes, too, but they get lost somewhere.  (The fate of many of my literal lists as well.)  Then there are times when some really brilliant idea or comparison pops into my head, but I can’t drop what I’m doing.  I do try to snatch a moment to rush to the computer and type in a title –and maybe a few lines– before I forget it.  When I’ve finished what I’m doing, I’ll get back to that file and let the creative juices flow.  If I remember.

Speaking of which, a few weeks ago I noticed a file in my hard drive entitled “Ads, ads, and termites.”  I stared at the screen for a minute.  What kind of ads was I thinking of?  On Kijiji perhaps?  But why the repeat?  And how do termites fit with ads?  I was mystified.  Maybe someday it’ll come back to me, I thought, and didn’t even bother to open the file.

Last week I saw it again and the fog started clearing.  “Ads, ads” wasn’t advertisements; this stood for adjectives and adverbs.  I was thinking about adjectives and adverbs, then read something about termites, and somehow a comparison popped into my head.  I’d been reading a missionaries’ letter –they are working in Cameroon– and they wrote something about termites.  But what?

Today I opened the file; here’s what I’d typed in:

Adjectives, adverbs, and fried termites  (Fried termites?)

The almost-pure-white butterflies flipped and flopped in lazy circles over the crisply sun-burned lawn, searching for a choice bit of vegetation on which to lay their tiny greenish-yellow eggs.

I know adjectives and adverbs have fallen into disfavour these days.  You’re supposed to cut back on them and rather choose strong nouns and verbs.  Like “The ivory butterflies twirled figure eights over what once was lawn, searching for some green spot to lay their eggs.”

But what does that all have to do with fried termites?  Whatever the case may be, I fear they will be forever linked in my mind now.

It will be just like the incident my mother-in law told me about.  One day while she was still a girl at home her brother Jake asked her a question: “When you see a falling star, do you ever think of onions?”

“Onions! No, never,” she answered.

“You will from now on,” Jake said with a laugh.

“Oh, brother!” she thought, but she told me his words have proved true: after that day, every time she saw a falling star she was reminded of that dumb joke.  And since she told me, I’ve thought of that silly “onions” joke, too, every time I see a falling star.

So be warned.  It’s possible that, from now on, every time someone mentions adjectives and adverbs you may find yourself thinking “fried termites.”

Perhaps I’d better find that letter, read it again, find out what my comparison was and tell you, too.  Right now the letter is buried somewhere in a pile of correspondence we received, but if I’d clean my house once…

Another Pearl that’s been forming in my grey matter:

A few days ago I read a post on someone else’s blog that really struck a chord with me.  It was about being a front-line soldier for the Lord.  My mind immediately flipped into the thought of –and started putting together an article about– the nature of an army.  I’ve asked permission to quote part of what she wrote because I think we all need to ponder this.  I’ll post her writing in a few days as an introduction, then my article will follow.  Spring cleaning can wait a bit longer, right?