Buffering [Sonny Payne]
When I was a percussionist in high school, we were responsible for keeping the jazz band, full orchestra, concert band, and marching band in time, and we did so through a haze of marijuana and hormones and passed-down stories of some guy’s uncle who saw Gene Krupa perform a 12-minute solo using every part of a high hat while eschewing the rest of the kit. And to this day, when I see videos like this, I get an urge to skip class and go make out with a bassoonist in a sound-proof practice room. After all, life is short, and lunch period is even shorter.
Did you read that? That was swell. One hundred five words. Less than half a page.
That’s all it took for this person (whom I’m pretty sure I’ve never met) to make my day. Now I want to follow this person or star this person or favr this person or whatever the fuck au courant verb box I need to mash on in order to see more things like that.
Yes, I realize I am — already, again, seemingly forever — carrying on like that weird relative who always smells of gin and Starlight mints as he threatens to “set you up with a sweet Doobie Brothers mix.” I love Starlight mints, but please don’t misunderstand me.
I genuinely enjoy looking at oversaturated pictures of coltish women I’ll never meet. I’m always game to make fun of “improperly” punctuated “signs.” And God knows I love reading (and posting) elliptical quotes from famous books I never finished reading. Stipulated.
But, brother. Do I ever wish more people would write little stories like Buffering’s. It’s just so wonderful. You know?
I mean, Jesus Christ, people, LOOK. We have keyboards! Literally right in front of us. Right this second.
This post is nearly four years old, and I think about it nearly every day. Every day when I make the clackity noise and especially the days when I don’t.Merlin, again:
Your keyboard will have different things in it than mine does, of course. But, it’s impossible to know what’s in there until you’ve made the clackity noise for a few minutes. You think you know what’s in there. But you don’t. It’s not your brain that makes the clackity noise, it’s your fingers.
Little stories come easy for me. I’ve written little stories my whole life. But the bigger they get, the harder they are to write. The secret is to break the big stories into little stories. 250 words in ten minutes, scene by scene, and if you work at that long enough, you’ll find you have a novel.
I used to feel like I would never write a novel, like I couldn’t. I’ve long thought that I’m more a poet than a prose writer. The first time I read a Harold Pinter prose poem, my brain went, yes, yes, yes. It was about cricket, and I don’t know anything about cricket, so I wrote one about hockey, dissecting Pinter’s structure and style.
This was before I started writing on the internet, and when I did, I recognised it as poetry immediately. I use whitespace and line breaks the way poets use whitespace and line breaks. It’s my punchline, my rhyming couplet.
I had been going about this novel thing all wrong. I was trying to write a novel like the ones we read in school. But what I was writing online wasn’t anything like that. The only way I’m ever going to write my novel is to write it my way: making the clackity noise, telling little stories, clicking them together into bigger stories, and knowing where to put the line breaks.
It’s been a quieter month than I had hoped for. I always know I’m not writing when I’m making too much of the wrong kind of noise, the whining instead of the clacking. I needed to read this again today, if only to remind myself that writing doesn’t happen in your head.
It happens in your fingers.