Saturday, June 4, 2016

At A Loss for Words

I’ve been blogging weekly for almost six years now and I’ve had a monthly newspaper column for five. Lately I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to come up with ideas for my essays. Last night I had a strange thought (not unusual when I’ve had a late dinner of pizza). What if I’ve simply run out of words? What if we’re born with a limited supply, and once we’ve used them all up, “that’s all she wrote,” as the saying goes. I’m not talking about the size of ones vocabulary; I mean just plain words we’ve ever used.

This might not be as crazy as it seems at first blush. Women are born with a limited amount of eggs in their ovaries. Once they’ve all made their monthly trip down a fallopian tube, the cupboard is bare. There are some theories that we have only so many brain cells and that in time, they’re toast. This of course depends a lot on heredity, nutrition, exercise and (according to AARP) doing sudokus and crossword puzzles. And regularly reading Retirement Sparks.

What if my word quota is running out already? I’m only in my seventies; I expect to live into my nineties. Will I be unable to communicate by the time I’m eighty? Is it just my ability to draw on the written word that is faltering, or will my spoken words dry up eventually as well? (Some who know me personally are probably thinking: “If only…”) If I find myself searching for a word, maybe it won’t be that the pathway to where the word is stored is clogged. Maybe the word will simply be gone—used up.

If I start writing shorter blog posts, will that conserve words so I can keep writing longer? Maybe I’m just in dry spell and need to collect more ideas for posts. Once I begin writing, things usually flow quite nicely. It’s getting started that’s difficult. I used to come up with topics from the morning talk shows, but they’ve been uninspiring lately. I probably need to get out more.

It looks like it’s time for a two-pronged approach. I’m keeping today’s post close to 400 words (I usually write 600 – 800) and setting off in search of inspiration. Connecticut is no doubt brimming with things I can write about; I just need to find them. But now that I have two cats, I’m worried that once I'm out I’ll be tempted to spend more money on toys. The world can be so cruel.

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