I do my best writing while driving. And no, (wipe that shocked look off your face) I do not actually write while driving. I mean I get my best ideas for writing while driving.
I know people get their ideas at various times and in different places, some commonplace, some random. In the kitchen, in bed, in the throne room, in the great outdoors etc. My friend, Nwuye, told me she gets hers in the shower. I advised her to design and patent an app or device she can write with/on while in the shower. She made all the right noises at the time but as far as I know she has come up with nothing. She is busy trying to evict all the weird and wonderful characters who live rent-free in her head. If you think I exaggerate, read her stories here, here and here. Anyway, I digress.
I find that whenever I am driving, usually alone, the words and pictures come effortlessly and flow seamlessly into beautiful prose. Missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle suddenly fall into place. There’s just something about the collaboration of man and machine that engenders inspiration, that makes me think in alacritous alliteration like, ‘gargantuan gas guzzlers gyrating gratingly along’ or something equally as abecedarian. I don’t know exactly what that something is but it does it for me almost every time.
However, the moment I sit and try to recapture those ideas, I find the words are mostly gone with the wind that blew in my hair while driving. I try to corral them into formation but I see them, in my mind’s eye, floating off in different directions, cackling and mocking as they fizzle into nothingness, elusive as air. And all that’s left is a shadow of a memory of something that was and then wasn’t.
And that’s why some of my best writing never gets written. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
When I was growing up, I had some aunties. Well, they weren’t all related by blood, however, all adult females were aunties and every adult male, an uncle. It was just the way it was and I never questioned it. Anyway, every time I saw these aunties, they would exclaim how much I’d grown since they’d last seen me. How much taller I’d sprouted. And I would roll my eyes, albeit in my head because actual eye-rolling would have resulted in me having said eyes gouged out by the fair hands of my mother who brooked no disrespect for elders on her watch.
I wondered if they expected me to remain exactly the same as when they’d last seen me irrespective of how much time had lapsed. Why were they so surprised I’d grown? After all, that is what children do, grow. I would stand there beaming coyly as they cooed their disbelief, never voicing my thoughts for fear of defenestration by my mother, while waiting impatiently till I could go off and do something I considered more worthwhile.
Fast forward twenty odd years or so and I have become those aunties. Sometimes, when I see children of friends or relatives, I open my mouth and out spills the aunties. I exclaim at how tall they’ve grown since I last saw them. I regard them in disbelief as I mentally count how old they are in order to reconcile their age with their height. I remind myself how much I disliked being on the receiving end but I’m still unable to stop myself.
Now I’m older and hopefully wiser, I can empathise with those aunties, albeit belatedly. As Oscar Wilde rightly said, youth is wasted on the young.
He says his sermon won’t take long. But then he quickly reassures us that it won’t be the shortest in the history of the church either. He tells us about the shortest sermon in the history of the church. He is right. It was short. All of fifteen words, nine of which was the same word repeated over and over again. That would have been the perfect day to be at church, I think.
He goes on to introduce his topic. He tells us that if we’ve got it he can stop here now. He asks us if we get it. We respond in the affirmative. He asks us again. This time we raise our voices in agreement and tell him we have. It would appear I am not the only one who would like him to stop now. But he doesn’t stop. He goes on to tell us about it. He reiterates that he will not be long.
PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide, he tells us again and again. His voice dips. I am lulled into thinking, this is it, he’s done. But it soon picks up again and he clicks on another slide. On and on. I lose track of time. But I, who have sat and listened to many sermons, know that this is by no means a short one.
I am listless. I want to be elsewhere though I don’t know where exactly. The last time I was here was a year ago. And it was hard. And sad. But I tell myself that this too shall pass. Like it did the last time. And it does. Eventually.