Friday, March 16, 2007

The Fever

(Thanks for cheering me up during my conference! It really helped me get through Wednesday. Here are my musings from the second day.)

There's a guy sitting in the front row. He's probably not old enough to be as gray as he is. Every nerve in his body is tuned forward. While others listen (or read the paper or sleep), he scribbles. A lot. (Well, I'm scribbling right now too, but lets not count that, okay?) He nods as if he's in a personal conversation with the speaker. He's so fascinated and enthused, his thoughts are physically pouring out.

Want to know something? I used to work with that guy about 12 years ago.

Well, more specifically, he worked under me, and because of the age difference, it was a bit hilarious. I was a freshly minted and licensed lawyer, and he was a student in a health law masters program. (Don't get me started on that. Tax law is pretty much the only legal discipline which warrants a graduate law degree. Maybe not even that.) I had been at the firm a couple years as a law clerk, and the big boss trusted me and put me in charge of the project.

With all this guy's fever and the uber education, he should be a super lawyer, right?? He lives and breathes the stuff. Look! He practically shakes with it! (To be honest, he literally shakes with it.)

Super lawyer? Not so much. In fact, he kind of sucks. Sorry.

Why? What's the problem? He can't listen. He can't hear people and give them what they need. He can't even see the person in front of him, I think.

Instead, he gives them what he thinks they need. His churning, churning brain has room for nothing else.

I'm a respected lawyer, but you can probably guess that I don't live and breathe the law. (Try to hide your shock. Please.) I'll never be a huge star in the legal field, because I refuse to sacrifice myself on that alter. I would have no other life. I would crumble away.

Yet, part of me is like him. Part of me is gripped by a fever. Can you tell?

When you talk to me, you have my complete attention. I want to hear your thoughts. I want to understand what drives you and shapes you. And at the same time, I will freely share in return.

It's the desire for that connection which burns in me. Not case law or statutes or regulations. It's the hidden light deep in humanity.

For me, writing is one of the few places minds can really intertwine, and the fever to do it is not something I intend to cure.

Thanks for taking the journey with me.


Terri said...

And that, dear boy, is one of the reasons we keep coming back here.

Susan Abraham said...

Jason, thank you for the lovely comments on my blog especially when you must be worn-out slightly with your week.
I enjoyed the writing for this post as always.
But just wondering about the guy.
Maybe he's changed.
I know I'm nothing at all now like I was 12 years ago.
Have a good weekend, you. :-)

Anonymous said...

"It's the hidden light deep in humanity."

you're awesome jason.

major, major crush. lol.

:) have yourself a wonderful weekend.

billie said...

A lovely example of giving just enough to leave the reader wanting more. :)

I am filling in the gaps, devising an entire story around this gray before his time shaking with the law attorney.

What is he avoiding by obsessing about minutiae?

What would draw him out of that and ignite a different kind of fire?

S. W. Vaughn said...

Wow. You're wicked, Jason. (That would be a good thing...)

I likes ya. I likes ya plenty. :-)

kcterrilynn said...

You've perfectly described the passion of writing...or the passion of anything for that matter. It is a fever, a burning desire to do it, doing it because you can't not do it.

Jaye Wells said...

Have you noticed a trend? All of the commentors so far are women. Your blog is like the literary version of Tiger Beat magazine with Scott Baio on the cover.

Bernita said...

Re: your guy sounds narcissistic. There are people like that to whom others function merely as audience.

apprentice said...

I think you nailed it when you said he doesn't listen - people fail in every walk of life by not hearing other people.

"Churning" is a great description.

Joni said...

I need that connection too.

I really am in awe. Either you have really mastered the whole time management thing or you are secretly flying around the globe and turning back time. Your job, (which sounds plenty time-consuming) writing, blogging, family, photography, building cabins, etc. Not to mention all the commenting you leave on everyone elses blogs. And that's just the stuff I KNOW you do. How do you manage it all?

Do you feel that there are certain arenas in your life that are lacking your attention because it must be turned elsewhere, or do you feel you're spread pretty evenly?

Anonymous said...

Terri, you'll always have that place here for you.

Susan, maybe he has. That is a kind thought. The interesting thing is that I recognized him at first by his movements out of the corner of my eye. It was a while before I could be sure of his face.

Kate, stop making me blush! LOL. :)

Billie, your compliment caught me by surprise. I'm very humbled by it! If my natural approach to description these days has that element, then I really have learned something in this year and a half of blogging. I owe it all to the feedback I've gotten here.

Sonya, I do have a rather dark, irreverent side. I don't often show it here. ;)

KC, I really do feel that way anymore. Years ago, folks would say only write if you have no other choice, and I would think yeah, yeah, yeah. But it has become true for me.

Jaye, no, I would never notice such a thing. ;) Thanks for the huge compliment, my friend (I think, lol). I promise you that any enjoyment folks get from visiting here is overshadowed by my pleasure to be their host.

Bernita, on some level I do feel badly for him. It's like he can't turn it off. Something has short circuited.

Apprentice, it's not an uncommon trait among lawyers, I'm afraid, but that usually has to do with ego.

Anonymous said...

Joni, that's a really great question.

The weird thing is, I feel lazy. I feel like I could be doing more.

Yes, it is a constant juggle among things, and I do have guilt. I feel like I should devote extra career time, or spend more time being a teacher for my daughters, or more time taking care of the house, etc. Overall though, objectively, I do think I have a good balance.

I realize I have an odd number and range of interests, and the only way I can explain how I manage to devote time to them all is that once I'm focused on something, I generally move efficiently. I'm a quick study. That minimizes how much time I need to get something done before I'm able to jump to something else.

Susan Abraham said...

It's interesting how you described yourself to Joni, Jason. It's hard when life affords more than one passion & then to find the emotional & physical space to accomodate them them all. Even with just the play & novel, I feel I am always berefting either one of serious attention and it adds on to that illusive guilt. Just a feeling of course, but may not be true at all. :-)

Eileen said...

I adore the line about nodding as if they are in a personal conversation. I know that look so very well.

Bev said...

you have the amazing ability to draw a word picture and have me actually SEE the guy! I'm sure this ability will make you into a world class novelist...when do we see the book??

anne said...

Thank you for letting us come along!

Anonymous said...

Susan, very true, very true. Sometimes it's quite hard, like time is slipping through your hands faster than you can shape it into what you're imagining. Then, other times, you just get too tired to try.

Eileen, there's something about that transparency that wears on me.

Bev, thank you for the high compliment!! I'm almost finished with the second revision (more like rewrite). I believe a third revision will go much more quickly. Just polishing. Hopefully, I'll be able to start looking for an agent soon.

Anne, :)

Wilf said...

The law is a cold place maybe and writing is where you can warm up a bit. I find that teaching can be sometimes excessively warm and writing is where I can place some sort of cool order!