There is no greater high as a writer than getting that sentence or paragraph… just right. You know what I mean – it’s that collection of words that you have spent far longer than you would care to admit, dissecting, rearranging, clipping, deleting and then reinstating, only to find that when all is said and done it doesn’t look all that different on your laptop from when you started messing around with it in the first place. But somehow, now, it just works.
Or maybe you don’t know what I mean. and that’s all right. I will accept – it’s a strange place to procure joy. I had one such literary climax yesterday, at the beginning of Chapter 23 of my novel in progress.
Carl had indeed given the blueberry waitress one of his Andrew Jackson twenties, and her initial scepticism as to its authenticity was alleviated when he quickly complimented her on the way she wore her hair in order to distract her. He coupled this with the kind of smile he had usually reserved for Beth – or before her – girls he had been interested in. The waitress had already taken another twenty from the till in order to satiate her uncertainty about the origin of Carl’s note, but instead of drawing comparisons as she had intended, she simply blushed, and thanked him for his kind words. When he told her she could keep the change she thanked him for that too and dropped both notes into the tray without any further ado.
This seemingly insignificant 130 word snippet appears in the narrative after 63,000 other words have gone before it. Most of those other words are (hopefully) very good, but it was as I was fiddling around with this particular chunk of text that I really felt things click into place. Why? I’m not entirely sure. But it’s a great feeling to have.
Completely out of context, this paragraph means absolutely nothing to anybody but me, and that’s fine, because the point is something intangible – something I could spend 63,000 more words trying to qualify and still not get anywhere near the head of the nail.
All right, fine, I will admit that likening it to a sexual experience is a little hyperbole on my part, because finding that perfect paragraph is just not comparable to sex in any way whatsoever: it’s much better than that.
Or maybe I’m just not doing it right.