creativity · On Writing · Uncategorized

Blowing Lightbulbs

Photo by Suvan Chowdhury on

Occasionally, but often enough to notice, I short circuit the world around me.

Lightbulbs suddenly flare bright, go dead when I flick on a light switch. An appliance light flickers, brightens, darkens forever. Everyday events like these can be common in an old house. I stock every kind of lightbulb in the cabinet over the dryer and have become adept at changing out lightbulbs anytime, anywhere. I’ve learned to laugh it off, to occasionally enjoy a good long chat with someone else who does the same thing.

I am not an electrical storm kind of person. I have no idea what that means, except that I don’t like the label. How about an official diagnosis such as being energetically gifted? Other possibilities crowd forward: electrically charged; high energy; sparky….Nyah, I prefer the phrase: short circuiting the world around me.

Wikipedia says “It is common to misuse “short circuit” to describe any electrical malfunction, regardless of the actual problem.” I wish that I could be more specific. I heartily desire that it never happened. I am unwilling to get to the root cause (possibly because I’m not convinced that there is one that would yield anything more useful than changing a lightbulb).

Last week something shocking and unexpected happened. Lightbulbs and appliances have been flaring dead ever since. To date, it’s been six lightbulbs including the tricky one over the stovetop that I’m leaving for an expert, the thermostat that controls the heat for the house, a hair dryer, a filter for the water pitcher (not electrical, but perplexing and unusual). The ice in the freezer looks wrong, indicating some kind of power failure or maybe I left it open. Yesterday, my phone went inexplicably dead; I was assured it was a phone update takeover and the phone is working this morning, so it’s fine. This morning, I was unable to send a piece to a fellow blogger, no matter how cleverly I worked around, pursued options.These events go straight into the short circuit category; again the cause is unimportant except as it adds to the flaring, flummoxing whole.

There is a logical explanation for this. Of course there is. It is coincidence, well within the bounds of normal. It is an old house with quirks and its own habits. I’m imagining things. An analytical sort would patiently list, examine, analyze and come up with the perfect explanation.

What use would that be?

I have no interest in getting to the root cause — even if there is a single, simple one. Others are welcome to offer theories. I’ll bet there are loads of them, complex and interlinking ones with theorems and proofs and dimensions that we don’t know about yet.

It’s not a problem that interests me

Short circuiting, strange electrical stuff that goes wrong is not a problem, major or minor. It’s startling. It’s inconvenient. I don’t worry about it, think about it much except when there’s so many events one on top of the other that I can’t help but notice I’m up on the step stool for the third time in an hour. I pay attention when I’m standing outside in the frigid air changing out two or three lightbulbs in the outside lights.

Short circuits don’t matter when there is important work to be done

My novel has a thorny, strange twisty plot that needs untangling. A new character is insisting on being let into the story and while she has a point, this is the time for the novel to rest deeply and well before editing and revision. She’s very convincing. What does she have to say — and what will it do to the story?

These are not problems. These are the everyday joys of a fully committed writer. There are stories to write, characters to love, settings to establish. It’s what writers do.

Beyond drafting is setting my darling out into the world to find her own way into the hands of readers. That enterprise is another huge — and marvelous challenge.

I do not know when this blast of short circuiting will end. Again, it’s not important beyond providing a topic for today’s post.

I have plenty of lightbulbs and I know how to change them

I also have plenty of sweaters, candles, and chocolate when I can’t.


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