Monday, June 25, 2018


I use the Notes app on my phone to do most of my writing. No fancy formatting, no having to think about anything but the words. It's like banging on a typewriter, albeit without the comforting clackety-clack of the keyboard.

The other night I was hacking away on a piece that has vexed me for weeks — something about hate and the way it's changing us, twisting us into ugly versions of who we used to be. I was stumbling through segues and transitions, the scut work, when the window unexpectedly opened between my eyes and I fell into the cauldron where words are born.

And I wrote:

Goddamned brainiacs. They applied algebraic geometry when simple subtraction would have sufficed ...

The gemmination — repeating the phrase so it settles into the brain, a bell rung twice for emphasis. An old mesmerist’s trick ...

It was the bark of a huckster, delivered with a sneer ...

Past a thousand words, closing in on 2,000. It wasn't quite singing but it was more than throat-clearing noises. For the first time in months it actually felt like I was doing more than typing.

At some point I must have fallen asleep — it was past 1 a.m., the best time to go swimming in the word pool. On my phone I type with my left thumb and right index finger, and when I dozed off my finger landed on the key to the right of the M.


It couldn't have been longer than a few minutes but when I woke up I looked down at a blank screen. The Notes app does not have an undo feature. There is no autosave. I jotted down the three things I remembered. The rest of it was gone. It's still gone.

Probably just as well. Those salvaged phrases are turgid.

"That's pretty depressing," a friend said when I relayed the story of the lost essay. "I was hoping it'd be something upbeat."

Next post. Promise.

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