SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Writing inspiration for me comes from lots of different places. And for most of my adult life, I have been what pros in the writing bizz call a 'facile' writer.
The short definition is, if I want to write, I generally just starting banging away on the keyboard.
Just like this.
But this fall, the writing hasn't been coming just like this much of the time. In fact, for the last two months, I thought I was afflicted by the dreaded writer's block, a syndrome most professional writers will tell you is, well, total crap. They also are the same writers who have never faced it.
Even though for months I have been outraged at the lunacy of ideologues like Glenn Beck, the lack of caring (and arrogance) of the people entrusted with running the two public university systems in California, and the seeming inability of Americans to have rational discourse, writing about these issues (and corollary matters) has seemed, well, sooooo daunting.
Daunting and frankly just plain old depressing.
Enter Jimmy Buffett.
Jimmy Buffett on stage
It wasn't actually Jimmy Buffett himself who got mixed up in my writing, it was a book by Buffett, A Salty Piece of Land, mailed to me by my nephew Tony Fitzgerald.
Tony had read the book, and while he admitted the prose wasn't exactly 'Homer,' he said it had certain style to it and that he thought I would enjoy it.
If it had been Homer, I doubt it would have been as effective.
The tale is about a cowboy/sailor from Wyoming who ends up in the tropics tending to the rebuilding of a lighthouse. That's about all I'll reveal today, because I am about halfway through reading the book and suspect that I will be recommending it later on in a longer review.
But even if I didn't read another page, A Salty Piece of Land, has helped me crack the formation of a writer's block.
While reading about the odyssey of Tully Mars (the main character), I suddenly envisioned myself writing about (and living in) sub-tropical Mexico - the very place Admiral Fox and I will be as soon as the fall semester at the university ends. And the thought of that writing - as opposed to spilling words about the idiocies of a Glenn Beck, for example - made my fingers positively twitch to get to a keyboard.
Is the writer's block gone? Will I never write again about loons like Glenn Beck or the trustees of the California State University system?
No to the first, and probably no to the second, too.
But thanks to Jimmy Buffett and Tully Mars, I think I understand what was blocking the words, and keeping the blood pressure up.
Get the lighthouse back on line Tully, please. I have things to write.
A Salty Piece of Land