Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"Your Route Guidance Begins... Never"

I could not write this idea.  And part of “I couldn’t” was “I didn’t want to.”  And part of “I didn’t want to” was “I didn’t know how.”  

It’s interesting.  (To me.) 

An idea comes to you and you think, “I can write that.”  And then you don’t do it. 

For months. 

Lemme tell you, post ideas are not easy to come by.  And yet, you got a good one wriggling on the hook, going, “Reel me in, Writer Boy” and you continually go,

“Eh.”  (Rhymes with “Feh.”)

If you’re me – a not particularly busy person – you curiously wonder what’s going on.

(Note:  I shall try to keep this concise.  At this writing, we are flying home from Toronto and, as a courtesy to the customers, I am determined not stretch this distraction-from-my-awareness-of-sitting-in-a-heavy-object-inexplicably-up-in-the- air out until we land.  Quoting the itinerant beggar in Fiddler on the Roof, speaking on your behalf, “If you have a long flight why should we suffer?”  (Which might have been used in the show had the Anatevka evacuees flown into exile.)

Anyway, here’s “the idea that seemed pretty good” I felt perplexingly unmotivated to write: 

“A driver in strange surroundings turns on “Route Guidance” to assist them and proceeds to ignore everything the Route Guidance announcer tells them to do.”                                             

Sounds promising, doesn’t it?  You track the “Route Guidance” announcer’s mounting frustration as the driver insistently overrules them following their own directions instead, the assisting announcer trying to nudge them into compliance, their reasoned persuasion escalating into annoyance, building to a crescendoing,

"Why did you turn me on in the first place!?!"

The comedic elements are all present.  The “Route Guidance” routine, as they say, virtually “writes itself.”

“Hm.” – he spontaneously perceives.

Maybe that’s the inhibiting obstacle right there –

The yawning predictability of the concept.

The funny yawning predictability – because I am, after all, a professional comedy writer– but “yawning predictability” nonetheless.

Suggesting – as I ponder it further – I am a limited professional comedy writer.

Borrowing from baseball, I can make – using a “writing” descriptive – the original plays but cannot comfortably execute the routine ones.


“Two strangers, connecting on the Internet, meet for the first time for coffee.”

A consummate professional would immediately jump in with both feet.


(“URKEL”-ISH) “Do I have to?”

When I am not writing “conceptually” – a Southern diplomat proposes a Civil War-averting compromise in which the South agrees to free the slaves two days a week – my companion literary “Comfort Zone” is “writing from experience.” 

I have zero experience with “Internet Interludes.”  (I am 72.  I have been on, like, six dates.)

“You’re a writer – make it up”? 

Sure.  But I’d be counterfeiting reality.  The Result:  Superficial and shallow.  Easy jokes and clichéd choices.  Still funny – because – he professed humbly – it’s me – but lacking the leavening ring of resonating veracity.  

(That was me, trying to be a writer.)

If I had to do it, I would wind up mimicking my professional “betters.”  To me, that’s not writing.  It’s connecting the dots that other writers laid down.  

Taking the creative “high road”, not because I am a superior person but because I am unable to do otherwise –whatever I write, I am required – by myself – to find a uniquely Pomerantzian perspective.  Otherwise, why am I bothering?

That’s where I was with the “Route Guidance” possibility.  I could not conceive of a fresh – and thereby inspiring – humorous approach.


As it often does, during my mediation, an intriguing direction suddenly materialized.

Which, if this plane gets me uneventfully to my destination,

I shall deliver when next we meet.

It may not be good.

But at least it’ll be original.

A burdening prerequisite, looking back,

That may have seriously hampered my career.


I got sad.

1 comment:

alisha semchuck said...

Ignoring the Route Guidance could possibly result in a Donner Party experience. As my ancestors would utter, "G-d forbid."