Let me paint you a picture of what writing is like for me.
Now, I grew up in the early 80s in the Midwest. My life basically looked like one of those Buzzfeed lists on how parents of my generation would have been arrested today for the way they parented. No seatbelts for us, or carseats for that matter. Parents smoking in the car while they drove around with you loose in the backseat. Running wild in the neighborhood until the streetlights came on. Watching TV for a *morning* (monitor screen time? what?). And then there was the food.
My mother, bless her heart, was not a culinary chef. I ate a lot of Kraft singles that I thought were actually cheese, and drank a lot of Ecto Cooler (look this one up, dears, if you don’t know what it is) that I thought was real juice. And then there was the soda. This of course was POP, not soda, because Chicago. I drank a lot of the stuff. Way more than any child should. It was a different time. I’m still alive. That fizz–that came in diet form in my house because my father was diabetic and we were “healthy”–was a permanent staple in my diet. It came in my lunchbox to school and hung out on my nightstand. It was basically my water.
Well, the words and ideas in my head are like a bottle of Coke.
Imagine, if you will, that you have shaken up a 2-liter of pop. If you leave the cap on, then it’s rather safe. It’s put together and pretty with a nicely designed label. It’s not good, what’s going on inside, the fizzing you can see just inside the shell of the bottle. That’s a lot of action in there! But it’s no real danger. It’s CONTAINED. Safe. If you choose to take the cap off, though, then doom on you. OUT it all comes with very little regard for where it’s going. It’s rather violent and certainly messy. Words are my Coke. Word vomit. All over.
This is a pretty daunting scenario. Who really wants to take the top off and get all messy? Well, that would be me, friends. Because if I DON’T make the mess, if I don’t get the contents of my bottle OUT, then there are consequences. And really, the mess I get from letting the Coke out is a blessing compared to the alternatives. Let me explain.
Back to your 2-liter. There is the chance, the slight chance but a real danger nonetheless, that you choose NOT to take off the top. You look in that bottle, and you see the fizz. And you think, No. Too dangerous. Not gonna risk that mess. And one of two things happens.
Either you let it sit, ignore the fizz, and eventually, it dies down. Whew. Crisis averted. And if you leave it long enough the fizz dies away entirely. And if you leave it even longer than THAT, so that it expires and no one would ever even want to consume it, in that dusty bottle, then guess what? The soda inside is flat. And even if you shake it, no fizz comes. The ability is gone, and the opportunity has passed.
Frightening, I know.
But even worse than that, I think? You leave that top on, again, because NO. Too scary and WHAT A MESS THAT WILL MAKE. But the bottle that houses your Coke, it’s not perfect. Someplace in the factory there was a mishap or misstep or Dennis the Coke Man was tired and didn’t check it, and now that bottle has a flaw. Doesn’t matter where. Because the fizz is pushing out, and that flawed bottle is doing its damnedest to hold it in, but it just can’t. And it *explodes*. The crack couldn’t take it, and the bottle bursts, and then you thought you were going to have a mess before? Surprise, my friend. This is ten times worse. Because now, not only is the fizz all over, but the entire contents of the bottle have come out VIOLENTLY and have covered everyone and everything. You don’t have a napkin or a towel. You weren’t ready. This is an unsafe, staining, sticky condition that no one wants to be in. Nobody wants to be around because THAT BOTTLE JUST LOST ITS SHIT. And they leave in droves. Too scary and messy for them.
So here’s the thing. My Coke bottle is already shaken up. There’s no way to undo that. I have discovered that I am a writer. I have lots to say and I am pretty good at saying it. I am all fizzy inside and the words want to come out. Sure, I can choose NOT to open the bottle. I would be safe from the messiness. But the fizz will eventually die out and I won’t have the opportunity to use it, because I will be FLAT and DEAD (shudder). OR I choose not to open the bottle and then I explode and lose my mind, messing up everyone around me. Because let’s face it, darlings, this bottle was like the last one on the conveyor belt and Dennis the Coke Man had already clocked out for the night. I am definitely a flawed product.
So I choose to open it on my own terms. Not all willy-nilly, but a bit at a time, like you do. With napkins at the ready, and a glass to catch what I want. There might be a little spill here or there, but I will be able to deal with it. The nice thing here is that I am in control of the situation. Not waiting for the fizz to die (how sad, yes?), and not hurting anyone (hopefully) with a Coke catastrophe. And then when the explosion is done? The rest is sweet and slightly fizzy and cold and refreshing. The rest is SO GOOD.