Queryering

Querying
Unknown miniaturist: Jean Miélot at his desk (2nd half 15th century)
"Nothing noteworthy ever comes into being without first erecting some scaffolding."

The smoke alarm on the twelve foot master bedroom ceiling started squealing at two thirty this morning, producing a piercing chirp every thirty seconds or so, a particularly cruel wake-up call. I failed to successfully ignore the alarm, though I felt shy about waking The Muse to ask if she'd mind terribly if I crawled up there to replace the battery, for she seemed to have been successfully sleeping through the intrusion. I fled downstairs, it being close enough to my usual wake up time, but even from there, the chirpy chiming proved distracting. I knew that quieting it would force an ordeal. I'd have to fetch the long collapsable ladder from the garage, wrestle it inside and upstairs, then perform the reverse origami unfolding in a tightly constricted space, the kind of operation best performed without critical eyes observing. I finally but reluctantly accepted the challenge, roused The Muse to ask her permission, then set about wrestling the ungainly ladder into place.

As expected, I delivered a performance without evident grace, even managing to scratch the wall in a place which might be next to impossible to repaint, in the unlikely event that we have some of that color of paint leftover in the basement.
I never understood, if the alarm is hard-wired into a live circuit, why it needed a battery in the first place, but it does, a nine volt held into place in a way so that replacing it requires only three hands and a little more luck that The Irish have mustered over the centuries. I managed somehow, without nicking the ceiling fan blades, even finding a fresh replacement where I expected to find it, and wedged that in place. Except for the scratched wall, I called my effort successful. Another one of life's little ordeals dealt with and hardly worth mentioning here or anywhere were it not for its allegorical significance.

This week, you see, I'd set aside as my week of Queryering, a blessedly infrequent activity. I write daily, but only very rarely send off notice of any completion, that part of the writing profession I've never found good reason to embrace. To what purpose might my writing aspire? I've long felt comfortable writing into a rough equivalent of the ether, producing for the simple sake of having produced, without the benefit or worse accompanying broader publication. I post to my Facebook group and link to my blog, then consider myself finished, though I am occasionally hectored about when some collection might find broader distribution. I've recently been hectoring myself. Following a late winter visit with an old colleague, who insisted that I simply must find some ways to more broadly share my writing, I accepted his challenge. I've been working toward that end since then, nine months and counting, during which I finished editing and re-editing and invited readers to help interpret the "finished" manuscript, resulting in what I've referred to as
The Golden Blurb. Blurb finished, I fancied myself ready for some long-delayed Queryering, which I'd imagined myself completing this week.

As usual, I went slightly unconscious when facing this final ordeal. I'd successfully managed to avoid engaging yesterday, finding a few of my more popular ways of deflecting navigating through this great challenge. Then the damned smoke alarm started chirping, most convincingly inviting me to wake up and engage. I nattered around the invitation before rousing The Muse and suffering through my inelegant performance, and scratching that wall. I heard the call and somehow survived without falling. Could this experience serve to reassure me past my reluctance? I'm writing this story in lieu of actually Queryering, but this effort might further my response, like fetching that ungainly ladder and wrestling it upstairs. Most of any ordeal seems focused upon preliminaries, little necessary rituals intended to create a context where success might emerge. Almost all the effort does not involve any actually productive work, and might well be classified as shirking in lieu of achieving the core objective, but this apparent nattering might just prove necessary, moving me closer to completion. Nothing noteworthy ever comes into being without first erecting some scaffolding.

I'm peering into darkness from the safety of my writing desk, sun still not risen on this day. I've almost completed this short story explaining how I have not quite yet managed to complete my planned Queryering. I feel no closer to achieving my objective. How might anyone, by which I mean myself, introduce a manuscript entitled Cluelessness? I suspect that I've built myself another double bind, one which I might only successfully resolve by apparently failing to resolve it. I might most productively just admit that I'm utterly incapable of successfully introducing this work, then set about attempting to do just that, anyway. Should my Queryering fall on infertile soil, I'll be no more foiled than I find myself in this humbling moment, before I've even set fingers to keyboard to attempt an introduction. I feel every bit as foolhardy as I felt fetching that ungainly ladder out of the garage at three this morning, hoping none of my neighbors were watching. The smoke alarm's no longer chirping, which might prove encouraging enough to get me up this time. Imagine how peacefully I'll sleep after completing this overwhelming challenge.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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