“This is not what we are talking about.”
I just stared, trying to process the adult sentence emerging from a tiny mouth.
She was right, of course. Vivian was making a point. She preferred one cat over the other, as one is friendlier and a better pet. I was making it a lesson about personalities and boundaries.
My next move in this game of parenting? I laughed.
Game over. I lost.
At least this round. Her little face scrunched, and her eyes took a steely angry look. Shut down, you are unworthy of conversation, mom.
I apologized, affirmed her statement was accurate, and moved us past. But that very grown up thought rang a bell in my head.
How often do I think these words when in a familial argument, or even an intellectual debate? I make a statement, and the response makes my internal voice say, that’s not what we are taking about.
In moments of little filter, I say as much. Usually with my mom. Usually with attitude of a sixteen year old girl.
I would like to think the attitude has diminished, but for some reason I believe attitude oozes in interactions with my mom, regardless age.
When in a discussion, it’s easy to miss the point. Especially when opinions and biases are involved.
On the flip side, we can shut down creative resolutions or new connections when we insist on being detail focused. But this is not what this blog is about.
Let’s be honest. Words fail at precise communication. Rough for a writer to admit, but language does not do its job sometimes. A writer’s job is to get as close to the emotion or thought as possible, then throw it to readers saying here I tried.
And if you are a good writer and editor, you succeed. If you are talented but suck at editing, you succeed in a way. If you are a decent writer, readers bring enough of their own worlds to create something with the words.
But this very thought can get in the way of writing. At least for me.
If I have an idea I’m set on, forget it. I will create the most uninteresting, intellectual goop possible. Because anytime I drift, my brain says this is not what we’re talking about.
I course correct. I edit as I move. I construct form. And… My writing is uninteresting, though well written, crap.
When I jump myself into the primordial ooze, I get something worth reading.
And the result is not what I thought it would be when I started. What starts as me working on a bench outside a library becomes an announcement of a life changing event.
What begins as satirical diologue on writing becomes a short story of manslaughter.
Here’s the crux of it. Writing is a career full of cliches, everyone supporting us while telling us how to do it better. And most times I nod, say uh huh, and do it my own way. I’m oppositional like that.
But once in awhile I have a moment where a cliche clicks, and my writing benefits. Like don’t edit while writing your first draft. When I first heard that I said excuse me? I always read what I’ve written to catch myself up, editing along the way. And that’s how my mind works, keeping track.
However, if I say to myself this is not what I’m talking about while moving through my process? I will write drivel.
Instead I have to jump in, let the thoughts flow naturally as I read myself, and let the current go where it wants. Otherwise my left hemisphere will doom my writing career before it even starts.
And be subjected to a toddler’s condescending attitude.
Pop quiz: is the image convex or concave?