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Topic: Beginnings (05/31/04)
TITLE: FROM THE BEGINNING GOD MADE IT SO
By James Snyder
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The name for this strange disease is "Pencilitis.” It comes from two words: “pencil” which refers to any writing instrument, and "itis," which means to itch like crazy. In short, it means I must have a pencil or pen in my hand at all times, scribbling incessantly... or else.
This affliction has plagued me for so long that I cannot remember a time when I have not had some writing instrument of some kind in. my hand. From my first crayon drawing on the walls of my nursery to the latest printout from my computer, I have spent my life scribbling. It is a compulsion that has driven me to ink
Some fortunate people enjoy long periods of writer's block. I know one writer who did not write anything for 18 years. Ah, to dream of that kind of relief and yet to know it is far out of my reach. I have not enjoyed such a blessing. What it must be like to sit in blissful quietness with not a thought in my head. I sure do envy those people
Mine has been a haunting toil with the quill and inkbottle. Every day of my life, I must dip my pen into that persnickety bottle of permanent India ink. Some people battle the booze bottle; my contention is with the inkbottle.
A blank piece of paper (no matter where I find it) is an abomination to me. Within me is an impulsion to put something on that piece of paper even if it is only my name.
Some people are neat-freaks; I'm a doodle-freak I have to accept that I am incurably addicted to doodling. Even in restaurants, I must doodle on the napkins, much to my wife's consternation (especially if the napkins are cloth). My doodle impetus knows no discrimination. All objects are equal when it comes to my scribbling on them. (I am an equal opportunity scribbler.) Often I see something in the papers that stirs my innermost being and my fingers begin itching. I try to resist, but I know I must write.
It's a struggle as I try my best to live with my hardship. Last week, for example, I awoke at 2:20 am, my brain swimming with ideas. Nothing would do, but I had to get up and go to my chair and write. After filling thee legal pages with all but lucid scribbling I was able to go back to bed and sleep. That is, after I had a snack (All that work makes a fellow hungry.)
In the light of morning I tried to read the scrawling from the night vigil; it was hard to know what brainstorm caused all that writing frenzy. Keeping up with all my ideas is a challenge for me. My brainchildren are just that to me - children. Sometimes they are cute and obedient and other times they are berserk with indescribable levels of lunacy.
When I am away from my writing mania, I begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms. My fingers begin to itch. My palms get sweaty. And my entire body begins gently to convulse. (This is not a pretty sight.) Relief comes only when I put a pencil in my hand and I begin to scrawl on anything at hand (sometimes even my hand).
St Augustine, one of the Church "fathers," understood this kind of thing when he wrote, “Thou, O Lord, has created us for Thyself and we are restless until we rest fully in Thee." Everybody experiences some form of restlessness. We excuse it and try to modify it, but in the end there is a pervading spirit of skittishness that we all battle.
It's amazing how other people's problems often look silly compared with our own. Somehow, we can condemn in others what we condone in ourselves.
I’m beginning to understand that from the beginning God made me like this for His purpose. I can begin swerving God by submitting to those things in my life, which I might consider neurosis.