“Punch the Keys, for God’s Sake”

When I was in high school I read a lot. I mean, like, a LOT. A book a day, at minimum.

“A book a day, Andrew?”

Yes, I was an A student, but I was bored. Or maybe, I was an A student and I was bored. Anyway, I relieved the soul crushing, mind numbing boredom of high school by reading. Constantly. Before school, during lunch, after school, during spare classes, hell, I read during actual classes.

Generally speaking, I read science fiction. A little fantasy along with, but mostly science fiction. The 80s were a pretty good time for science fiction, there was plenty of good stuff out there, and even if there weren’t anything new, there were the grand masters of the 60s and 70s.

I had a particular fondness for Robert A. Heinlein, so much so that I doubt there’s a single published word he wrote that I haven’t read.

“Okay, but what does that have to do with the headline quote from Finding Forrester?”

Hold your balls, I’m getting there.

Heinlein occasionally wrote a writer into his stories, and he often wrote about his own experiences as a writer. One of the things he wrote about was “the monkey on his back.” A story, itching to be told, rattling around in his brain, and the monkey wouldn’t leave him alone until he told the story.

Then, for a while, it would leave him alone. Until another story idea came along, and the itch would come back, and the monkey would bother him until he wrote that one.

Lately, I’ve been feeling something similar. I didn’t get much blog writing done this weekend, but for a change I had good reason. Usually when I don’t get much written here, it’s because I got lazy and simply fell out of daily practice.

This time? Not so much.

I recently joined AWAI, the American Writers and Artist’s Institute. This weekend, instead of my usual blogging and vlogging, I was writing as a part of one of AWAI’s copywriting contests.

Will I win? I don’t know, and I certainly have my doubts. Since clicking “Submit” I’ve already thought of 2 or 3 things I could have done to improve my entry. But that’s not what’s important here.

What is important?

  1. I was still writing every day.
  2. I submitted copy to be judged by professional writers.
  3. I’m starting to feel that itch, that “monkey on the back” that Heinlein wrote about.

In my case it’s different, at least so far. Tonight I finished the dishes and the garbage, and was about to go to bed, but I had this itch to write. Not something specific, but I really wanted to keep my “daily, consistent mediocrity” going.

I had several ideas for what to write about, but none of them really grabbed hold of me. Then I remembered that movie quote, and I got to thinking about how often I sat down to write one story, and ended up writing something completely different.

So, other than knowing I’d end up explaining the reference in my headline, I genuinely didn’t know what I was going to write. Only that I was going to write.

So I sat down, put my fingers on the home keys and started to “punch the keys.” I left the story of how I got to “punch the keys, for god’s sake” to the creative impulse, and the itch in the back of my head.

And here we are.