A song came on the radio yesterday, Pancho and Lefty. “Oh, I love this song,” I said to my buddy in the car. “Morrissey.”
He looked down his nose sideways at me. “Not Morrissey. Sheesh.”
“Right,” I said. “Of course I meant Townes Van Zandt. Obviously.”
Except to him, it wasn’t obvious at all. He just thought I was an idiot, confusing two very dissimilar artists. What he didn’t see where the wheels whirring behind the scenes. See, I always confuse Townes Van Zandt with Van Morrison (mostly because of the Van, but partly cuz they’re both soulful gents), and I always confuse Van Morrison with Morrisey, so obviously I was just skipping a step and confusing Morrissey with Townes.
Everyone has those glitches and shortcuts in their heads, but no two heads are the same. On a good day, the shortcuts show themselves as brilliant logical deductions. You’re like Sherlock Holmes, pulling disparate information together into blinding brilliance, and eloquently packaging it all up for the end-of-story wrap-up.
On a bad day, you’re like, “Butter? Dam’ near killed ‘im!” and then you giggle uncontrollably as the whole room stares at you in confused silence.
I notice it in my writing all the time. You know how they say the first thing you should delete when editing is the bit you love the most? I think it’s because it’s your glitch, your own particular shortcuts shining through. You’re making a connection, and it’s freaking genius, and beautiful, and why doesn’t everyone else see that?
Because they are not you. I’m not saying writing needs to be stupid, or play to the lowest common denominator, but the best authors are the ones who manage to transmit each shortcut clearly, sometimes through a single sentence or word. They are able to make their idiosyncratic thought processes sensible to a larger audience, and therefore retain the beauty of their own voice.
Which is important, you know. Because otherwise, sausages. All the same.
Amen that! And it’s such a wonder when you find someone who immediately understands when your mind makes those leaps of faith and can follow the flow. Maybe that’s the start of love.