really deep water, and pencils

Sometimes a scene is so important that I find myself afraid to jump in. I’ve been dealing with a scene like that for two days, dipping my toe in the water and drawing back in panic. Just how deep is this water, and what if it’s too deep?

A short side trip to make clear how serious an analogy this really is.

On a hot Chicago summer day when I was nine years old, and hadn’t yet learned to swim, a bully who shall remain nameless (but his initials were Jimmy Malone) pushed me into the deep end of the very crowded public pool at Horner Park at California Avenue and Irving Park Road. I remember trying to reach the side of the pool, and failing. I remember the going down for the third time, and how pretty the sunshine was on the water. Then I remember throwing up on the lifeguard who pulled me out. He was shaking, and he had very bad acne, and that’s all I remember about him. So you see, when I talk about jumping into the deep end, I know whereof I speak.

So this morning I did something drastic. I went out to write at Starbucks (please, no commentary on writers at Starbucks) and accidentally on purpose I left my laptop at home. Thus I was left with a notebook and a pencil, and two hours of time. So I wrote long hand. And now the scene is out, and pretty good, I think, after all my agonizing. Once in a while, I can float with the help of a number two pencil.