Rendered Fat Content


Rene Magritte - Golconda (1953)
"I might break my stride or bust a rhyme and improve the quality of my experience."

In June 2000, London's Millennium Bridge opened to flooding crowds. Unpredicted by anyone associated with bridge design or construction, the mechanical resonance of the crowd's movement set up a small swaying within the structure. This movement further encouraged a kind of sympathetic resonance within the crowd, whereby people began walking in lockstep, further amplifying the bridge's swaying. Nothing came of this event, other than that the bridge was shut down for inconclusive investigations for the month following its opening. Way back in the 1840s, some soldiers marching across a Scottish suspension bridge, brought down the structure and ended up in the water below when their marching's mechanical resonance, much like that Millennium Bridge's crowd's, matched and amplified the bridge's. Soldier now commonly break stride when crossing a bridge to prevent such occurrences.

Writer's, too, maintain a cadence in their production.
I, as you've no doubt noticed, post daily. Indeed, I produce each morning, and I feel as though I'm falling behind or even betraying myself if I do not complete my daily writing quota, which is more of a pattern than a number of words. I simply must each morning imagine a fresh topic and espouse about it. I rarely know where to begin when I begin and almost always surprise myself when I manage to actually produce then post something original. I soon forget about whatever I post, for I have another piece to produce tomorrow and dwelling on the past never seems to help create any future. Writing becomes, then, a process of elimination, a squeezing out and flushing away, if you'll excuse my analogy. Authoring's different. Authoring attempts to preserve and extend. It's easily overwhelmed by excessive production and really needs the world to sit still for periods of time while it polishes and "finishes" a product.

Authoring BreaksRhythm. The smooth flow of production feels threatened by the absence of that good old reliable cadence, and speaking from my personal experience, I've actively avoided Authoring for precisely that reason. Writing seems such a delicate gift, a vulnerable ability, that breaking its rhythm can honestly feel like self destruction. The delicate balance, once disrupted, often feels more than merely interrupted, but undermined. It seems to this scribbler that I risk my whole career should I very often break the cadence of it. The few days that I've stayed away from my keyboard fall on me like playing hooky, I'm AWOL, always absent without leave or good excuse. I can never recreate a moment foregone without foregoing another moment ripe with promise. When I catch myself BreakingRhythm, I catch myself feeling threatened.

And so I've found it more than just convenient to keep my Authoring buttoned up as at least an inconvenience and at worst much worse. I've held it out at arm's length as if it carried an awful stink and might just do me in. I have never considered stepping softly into that particular good night, since stepping softly breaks the rhythm of my usually inexorable march. If I'm to do any Authoring, though, it seems that I'll need to add some variety into my repertoire. A few days at least spent deliberately BreakingRhythm or else my writing will simply bring down the bridge into that Authoring world.

As a sometimes poet presently engaged in creating another holiday poem cycle, twelve fresh rhymes I'll share as gifts on Christmas morning, I'm relearning how to write, as I seem to relearn each time. Writing's not really repetitive practice, but serial extension, each intrusion different, each variation somehow necessary. Who wants to read the same pattern over and over and over again? I've been noticing this time through that a decent poem needs more than just rhythm and rhyme to thrive. Sure, a certain skill's exhibited if a work can keep consistent rhythm and perfect rhyme through an entire piece. It's a master's touch. But it seems to me that there's a space beyond what consistency and perfection might produce. I'm finding that cleverly injecting some BreakingRhythm sometimes amplifies the impact of the writing. Never exhibiting a pattern, such divergences must come surprisingly and sparingly, as an apparently busted rhythm or bungled rhyme, except they work. In that context and in that moment, they work. It's a mystery, dammit, why this is, but the truth of this perspective's obvious. Isn't it?

For me, approaching Authoring carries the same challenge as creating a beneficial busted rhyme or rhythm. I dare not embrace the role of Author to the exclusion of my writing role. I also must retain more or less the same rhythm and rhyme schemes that have so very well served me as a writer. I might, though, allow myself a little latitude. I need not mindlessly repeat the patterns that previously sustained me. As those soldiers showed, when marching forward across a bridge, it's best to avoid producing certain mechanical resonances. I might break my stride or bust a rhyme and improve the quality of my experience.


Friday comes to interrupt my weekly marching forward cadence. It forces me to break stride, too, and reflect upon to what I've been subjecting myself and my readers. This writing week saw the end of my Homemade Series and the start of this as yet nascent Authoring one. It also chronicled the end of Our Grand Refurbish. This Friday also lands on Christmas Eve and so breaks the usual week's stride by overlaying my creation of my annual Christmas Poem Cycle, an annual exercise in BreakingRhythm, big time. Between the solstice and Christmas morning, I hold myself accountable for producing twelve fresh new poems about Christmas, these to use in lieu of presents come Christmas morning. The rhythm through these last few days before the holiday has therefore tended to have been rather frantic, as if I've been breaking my usual marching stride by sprinting instead. It's invigorating and something different, and a reminder to me, a reinforcement, that this Authoring business might also feel energizing; not just distraction but an additional attraction, if a strange one here at first.

I began this writing week by accomplishing a crowning achievement in
Crowning. "The whole refurbish was wrong from the beginning, wrong but continually correcting itself by accepting just what it could accomplish."

I then just watched as our whole Grand Refurbishment enterprise just disappeared before my eyes in
PackingUp. "Grand Refurbishes end with a whimper."

I reflected upon how the same reward seems to be earned however anything turns out in
StartingAtOne. " … our reward for successfully achieving whatever we achieved seems to be the same as it would have been had the effort crashed and burned just after takeoff. We're back to StartingAtOne again, forging a brand new trail heading toward the same damned destination we're always heading toward."

I prepared myself for reentering ordinary time by considering what constitutes
ExtraordinaryTimes. "When I engage in ExtraordinaryThings, my job becomes both much easier as well as utterly impossible; unnecessary. If I need not see through the veil the ordinary presents to me, I have no need to glean anything otherwise unseen and yet extraordinary from there. When the air is thick with significance, magic becomes impossible and surprises, unnecessary. When the atmosphere grows thin, then some superpower might manifest again."

I ended my Homemade Series and Our Grand Refurbishment in the
ColdLight of Solstice morning. "If this is bleak, bring on more of it. If this is the darkest night of the year, I figure I have little to fear from the long nights coming between tonight and Spring."

I began my Authoring Series inauspiciously with
InauspiciousBeginning. "Lazer focus is pure fiction. If something's to survive in this world, it needs a fly's vision, a thousand lenses absorbing orthogonal perspectives, sending mixed messages."

I ended my writing week penning a letter to the editor or my local paper in
Ledda2duhEduhduh. "It seems a marvel, a wonder, that my byline appears in actual ink on actual newsprint. David A. Schmaltz, Walla Walla, it says."

And so this momentous week spent crossing over into ordinary time again ends, here on Christmas Eve morning, with me still three poems short of a full cycle and only about twenty-four hours remaining to finish my work, Authoring idling impatiently. I'm thinking about writing about all the Christmases that never were, the ones where it didn't snow, those where we decided not to go over any river or through any woods to Grandmother's house. The ones short a one-horse open sleigh. The ordinary ones which were, according to theory and Hoyle, never supposed to happen and so didn't. May your holiday be just as extraordinary as you aspire for it to be and no more exceptional than you can handle. Thank you for following along through Our Homemade Grand Refurbish and beyond. I would not be making this journey if you hadn't agreed to come along. Merry Christmas!

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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