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A Rare Bird

I think I mentioned finding the book Bird by Bird and how it has helped me confirm that I am, indeed, a writer — despite never having had anything published. To be honest, I’ve never even had the courage to submit anything, although I have high hopes for the next 36 years of my writing life.

But it’s helped in more ways than one. Up until this point, I thought I was the only person who had a mental script detailing exactly what I’d say if I:

1) Were suddenly invited to appear on David Letterman (or Conan, or Leno — Heck! I was prepared way back when there was only Carson!)

2) Unexpectedly ran into my favorite celebrity (Key: No gushing, but enough flattery to ensure I’m invited to their next wrap party).

3) Finally tracked down that girl who never failed to make me feel 3 inches tall in high school. Generally, this just consists of looking on in satisfaction while she totters past me on the sidewalk — obese, hirsute, and obviously syphilitic.

And it doesn’t stop there. I’ve taken the starring role in almost every one of my favorite movies. Or walked around as best supporting actress until I could figure out why she never took the lead. I’ve lived my entire life over — as a man, as a black woman, as a homosexual, as a vegetarian — and tried to picture which choices would have changed and which would have stayed the same. I’ve cast all my friends in Little Women or Steel Magnolias or Pride and Prejudice and marveled over how their personalities have changed the tone of each and every one. I’ve stolen snippets from their conversation and filed it away for eventual use. And I’ve pondered the magic involved in writing realistic dialogue, all the while marveling that Robin Cook has published novel after novel without ever managing it once.

And in all this time, I never imagined that other people might be walking down the street lost in Walter Mitty-esque musings — sometimes beautiful, sometimes grotesque, one moment devout, the other profane. But always, always tangible. So much so, that a return to reality often feels as jarring and unwelcome as a crash landing on Mars.

How many times have I heard, “Jodi’s not listening. She’s in her own little world,” and had to hold back from shouting, “Shows what you know! My world is HUGE!” Populated with people of all kinds, from all walks of life. They look like people I’ve known or met or simply saw once in the supermarket. They speak in stolen snatches of conversation. And they dance to the beat of their own drum — it just so happens I’m the one calling the tune. I literally cannot wait to introduce them to somebody. ¬†Physically aching to bridge the gap between my head and my fingertips.

I know it will happen. I actually believe it now. I don’t know how long it will take, but one day the words are going to fly.

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7 Responses

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  1. Robin O'Bryant says

    THIS is amazing. So well said!

  2. Barbara says

    Oh, yes you will! I think Bird by Bird is an amazing book. You mean everyone doesn’t have an alternate world running in their heads? Really? I am every character in every story and novel, male and female. I haven’t had much published but I’m having fun.

  3. jodi says

    Thanks, Robin! You are awesome!

  4. jodi says

    Barbara, that’s exactly what I’m going to keep telling myself. Before I was afraid to try because failing would hurt too much. But now I just want to enjoy myself.

  5. bells says

    oh yes, you have discovered a good thing. Publication doesn’t make us writers. Writing does.

    My favourite line from this post “obviously syphilitic.” Genius.

  6. angie says

    The words are already flying! I love “Bird by Bird.” That’s the book that really inspired me to get on with it! Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Amy, your sister says

    Baby, you are going to be GREAT!! I knew that a LONG time ago. You rocked my world at two years old! I knew you were destined for wonderful, marvelous things. So…hurry up already! I’m not getting any younger and I want to be the first to read it!



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