The defining moment was years ago when I realized I was finishing thoughts for people. If they paused looking for a word, I supplied it. Copious words are always sloshing about in my head, and that is something I cannot control. No one pointed out my presumptive habit, so it must have gotten pretty bad for me to notice it myself. I slapped a mental block on my tongue and demanded patience to wait for people to find their own words without my help. Vigilance was not easy. Folks may have noticed my tightening lips, reddening face, and bulging fish-eyes. Inner-word pressure was explosive!
While walking recently, I enjoyed a chat with neighbor Marla. I was not aware of what I was doing. I think I let her finish her sentence, but I summed up the end of her thought in two words. She moved her head a fraction, looked at me, and agreed with a “yeah”. She said, “Right. You’re a writer, aren’t you?”
She said it in the nicest possible way, so I didn’t examine it immediately. Much later it occurred to me that her words could be damnation, not praise!
Not thinking of it as a lame defense, I explained, “I love words. I love people, and I love words.”
Marla smiled, and the incident was over. I would like to reopen it one more time to apologize. With no trumpet fanfare, my old habit resurfaced. I really didn’t pay attention right away until I finished a sentence for John, and he agreed with my choice of words. Golly Pete! I must devise a new, effective tongue-tie.
Many people reading this are writers. Do any of you have a problem like mine? Have you lost friends or been banished from gatherings because words burst out unbidden? Any thoughts of commiseration or wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, I’ll impose a gag order on myself.