If actual experience were the Empire State Building, words are the dirt that collects on the pinnacle of the flashing red globe at the top.
A nineteen-year- old dies in Afghanistan! Your heart is broken! Shakespeare wrote a play!
Let me attempt to prove my point.
Writers, be prepared to have a nervous breakdown after doing this exercise, as your whole existence might come into question, and you may have second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth thoughts about why you’re still a barista.
This amazing experiment requires only three things:
3) Power saw
First, cut off your hand with the power saw. Second, write as much as you’d like about what it’s like to cut your hand off with a power saw. I recommend using a tourniquet on the bloody stump which should allow you to finish this writing exercise.
Done? Okay, put down your pencil and take a deep breath (you’re looking kind of pale).
The fact is (and I know I’m going out on a limb here-oh, sorry) that the paper you wrote, the bloody one there on the bloody table, doesn’t come close to the actual experience. It’s like trying to describe an orgasm to a blind man (wait, did I get that wrong? Damn words!).
I bet you wrote some amazing descriptions of the 6000 RPM cross-cut blade ripping through your skin and bone, blood spraying like raspberry syrup from a dolphin’s blowhole. But guess what? It wasn’t even close!
Dirt on the flashing red globe! Orgasms and blind colors! Bullets ripping through your shirt!
But let’s keep trying. Let’s keep trying, even if we’re at the top of the Empire State Building, our words covering that flashing red light like little particles of dust. Because that’s what’s really important. That’s what keeps us going.
That and coffee, from that writer over there smiling back at us, making that Triple Grande Latte.