I take vacations from my computer. I forget what it feels like for a few days and then slowly return. I open it up, and rest – my wrists cooled by aluminum – and run my fingertips over softened keys. I drum my nails on small black squares, relishing the moments before I figure out what I wish to say next.
Vacations are good for the soul. They help the brain slip into a relaxed state to live out of its purest self. And that, I have found, is when you should write.
Hemingway once said, “Write drunk; edit sober.” Perhaps he meant it literally, but I think him far more complex than that. Maybe, just maybe, Hemingway was urging us all to get so far deep into ourselves, so intoxicated by the subconscious, that it becomes all we can see, feel, or believe, for that moment. To push so fiercely against the boundaries of reality, that they break. To let our innermost essences guide our writing to depths so vast and great, we won’t dart up our eyes to read what we’ve written. Because in darting, we scare it.
To edit is to feed bread to the drunken stomach. It sops up the essence like tasty vinaigrette and feeds it to the conscious mind. And then it is gone – bread, vinaigrette, essence – all of it. Gone.
Hemingway knows well because he – like we – has lost many times. Overcome by the cockiness and arrogance that hits you like the second current after a brilliant idea, he sought to relive the moment. The journey. The feeling. But the subconscious tolerates no man’s ego. And so, like oil-soaked bread, it dissolves.
He urges to instead let the mind wander. To let your inhibitions fall away. To get drunk on ideas and notions, possibilities and stories. To let your hand go mad. To birth the story until its fast approaching end. Until the drunkenness fades.
And at its end, you will know. For the clock will tick louder. The lights will suddenly awake. Your hand will slow. Your purest self will retreat. And then, only then, once the rolling boil lulls, should your eyes wander to the top to relive the experience.
And then, you edit.