I’m betraying my age here (which is fine, I’m old and I own it), but when I was younger there was a common saying that people would twist in funny way. I’m going to make like a banana and split, you’d say when you were leaving. Or, make like a busboy and get the fork out of here. Or, make like a tree and leave. We said them for all kinds of occasions.
Ah, yes, those were simpler times.
But I thought of those sayings the other morning when I was outside writing early in the morning, listening to the birds greet the day as the sun rose over the houses across the street. And I thought, I need to make like a bird and sing. (Only in my case, sing is a metaphor for write because, trust me, you don’t want to hear me sing.) Or, make like a flower and bloom. Or, make like an Oregon grape plant that the husband planted against all objections and take over the garden.
My point being: the birds don’t worry about who, if anybody, is listening, or if they are singing it right. The flowers don’t worry about if they look fat in that color of red, or if they are arranged in a way that will be pleasing to everyone. And the Oregon grape? Well, I’m pretty sure it has world domination in mind but never mind.
Because, wait for it here: we need to make like a writer and write. Because like birds singing, flowers blooming, and Oregon grape dominating, that’s what we do. Writers write. Except when we don’t. Because we worry. About how it will sound, how it looks, is it right? Will the agent I want to submit to like it, how will my readers react, what will my mother think when she reads that sex scene? Did I spell that word right, is the grammar correct, and how do I punctuate a sentence like that?
It gets worse when you start writing professionally (or aspire to) because all of those concerns can be front and center all the time. You have to push yourself to write fast, to go back to writing for the joy of it—even if you’ll eventually get paid, too.
Because I wager that none of us got into this writing biz because we wanted to fuss and worry over punctuation and sentence structure. (Okay, I know there are some of you grammar geeks out there shaking your heads.) We got into it because writing, to us, is singing, blooming, growing so marvelously lushly that there’s no room to walk past us on the deck. Am I right? And it really is easy to forget that.
So, next time you sit down to write, remember the birds. And the flowers. And the Oregon grape. Okay, not the Oregon grape. Remember why you do this…and make like a bird and sing.