As a writer, my ears always prick up when I hear a pithy word combination or an elegant turn of phrase. All these droll fragments get stored in my mental treasure chest, to be trotted out on this blog when the spirit moves me. My thoughts may be original to me, but the way I express them is often a mish-mash of things I’ve heard from so many places that I couldn’t possibly tell you their origins.
It’s a little harder to do that with entire sentences, though, without having to own up to downright plagiarism. Take this sentence that I read in a story written by my friend Paul Currington, the leader of the monthly storytelling group I attend called Fresh Ground Stories: “In the coal mine of life my canary is always dead.”
I just have to say, it’s a rare sentence that makes me roll back my chair and exclaim out loud. “Dang! That’s good!” Okay, so I might have punctuated it differently, but that’s just my pea-green jealousy talking.
That sentence is a thing of beauty. I’m in love with that sentence. I would have sex with that sentence if I could. Dammit, why didn’t I think of it?
Moments like this are rather bittersweet. I will always remember that sentence, and how it made me feel when my eyes touched it, but in good conscience I’ll never be able to use it.
That’s like being treated to the best gelato on earth, but being told you only get to have it once. Given that option, it would take me quite some time to decide if it was worth it, if it meant a lifetime of depravation. (But yeah, in the end I’d have it. I know me.)
I will admit that I’ve also written a few really good sentences in my life. My favorite one from this blog is: “Barack Obama eats boysenberry aspic on melba toast while doing the watusi in a frothy silk kimono.”
To understand why I wrote it, you’ll just have to check out the blog entry in question.