good on paper by nonbreaking space - BLOG

I’ve always longed to be a person who could effortlessly hold up his end of any conversation, the sort of man who impresses others with his wit and wisdom. But I’ve never been that clever, which is probably why I cling to writing so much.

The thing that brought this to mind is I recently met someone who sparked my creativity. My first real communication with her was a haiku I’d written about her. I gave her a copy of the haiku. Though I found her quite attractive, I wasn’t trying to hit on her. I just wanted to pay a small compliment.

I eventually did ask her out. Much to my surprise, she accepted, and the ensuing date was one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had. But I wasn’t nearly as sharp in person as I wanted to be. This is just the sort of situation where, even at my best, I feel like I’m treading water. I can’t seem to dial up words in normal conversation like I can when writing — where I can edit every syllable before anyone ever sees it.

Maybe I got away with a sub-par performance. Maybe I didn’t do as badly as I thought, but this is the kind of scenario that comes to mind when I think about how much more comfortable I am writing than speaking.

When I get caught behind in a real-time discussion, it’s obvious. But when I write, no one can tell how long it took to form each sentence, or how many times I switched out half the words. So it may seem the words flowed from my mind the way some phrases roll off a cleverer person’s tongue. And that often leaves me with the slightest sense of guilt — that I might just be fooling people who’ve only been exposed to me through writing.

And then, of course, there are those who don’t even think that much of my writing, to whom this whole thought process must seem a waste of time. Which it may be anyway.

I’m good on paper,
ruler of infinite space,
but no one lives there

(C) Howard

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