Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Making Biscuits

This thing called the creative process is quite interesting. There are times when I sit here before the blank page, stumped. I look out the window. I remember the oven needs cleaning so go downstairs and get that going. I'm recording the HBO "John Adams" series to disc so we can watch it in Delaware. Get up again and deal with that. Get some coffee. Still can't think of anything to write. Put a message on the neighborhood list serv asking if anybody knows of a shop around here that fixes reel-to-reel tape players. One more little chore done, but I still don't know what to write about.

My Grandma Mac had an expression for this kind of procrastination, this indecision, and it passed through our mother to me and my sister and her kids. It's "making biscuits." I've been making biscuits all morning about what to put in this space.

I finally take the line of least resistance and decide to write about indecision itself. Then a job with a point to it begins. Find some music that talks about choice, decision. That involves making more biscuits, really, because I don't have to write anything yet, just listen to some interesting songs. I finally choose the songs and deal with them in Hipcast. And finally, here I am, filling the space with words about the process that went into filling the space.

Thank goodness I'm not usually afflicted with this blank-pageitis as I go through life generally. I'm actually not much of a researcher and don't appreciate having myriad choices to study, although there are times when a wise choice is important and I will bend and do the necessary inquiries. I prefer to do that at my own pace here at home, however, and the Internet is an invaluable tool for the process. I read reviews of products and services and narrow my choice to one or two. Then I check shopping services for product availability and price. Finally, armed with model numbers and a list of questions to ask, I'm ready to face the store itself. I do shopping malls as little as is humanly possible; the idea of walking into a department or appliance emporium faced with unknowable choices being a nightmare for me. This way, I can march in, with any luck find floor help who not only speaks English but has the mental capacity to engage me and my questions (I know, a very tall order!) and get the transaction done.

You've heard of "thinking outside the box"? We have a friend who lives outside the box. To me, his life seems totally unmanageable. He can juggle a dozen balls at once for indefinite periods of time. When he finally makes a decision, big or small, it is invariably creative to the point of genius. He has the ability to synthesize the good points of dozens of alternatives and come up with something new. He gets frustrated himself at the length of time it all takes, and doing things with him, regardless of the excellence of the probable outcome, is an exercise in diplomacy and patience. Talk about making biscuits--this guy could open a bakery! Once we took a trip with him and asked him him to be the tour director, since he knew the destination better than we did. He presented us with countless choices and gave us the pros and cons of each. He couldn't make up his own mind what was best, and he was the one who knew the place. After an hour we finally pushed ourselves off the fence and, even with all that information, did the equivalent of closing our eyes and pointing. The excursion was excellent, but oh, the trip it was to get to it! Somehow we all end up at the same place anyway, regardless of the means.

I think the oven is finished cleaning. I'll go put in the biscuits.

6 comments:

Kat said...

Ralph,
Lately I have had a bit of blogger block. After four years of Coffee, I have probably touched upon almost everything I know and remember. I too find a distraction until I'm struck by creative genius. Sometimes I'll stare out the window while other times I'll find something to occupy my time. Some days I just prattle.

Ralph said...

Sometimes I think that's all I'm doing, too. As long as somebody enjoys it, I guess....

Cuidado said...

I think you've made a fine pan of biscuits.

Ralph said...

Thanks, Cuidado. All I need is one fan and I'll just keep on clogging up the ether!

Zoey & Me said...

"pageitis"?? how funny is that?

Ralph said...

Know what, Z&M? I figure if I can't make up words in mym own blog, what's the point?