When I started in this cigar broker business I was as green as grass. Now, twelve years later I’m still green, but the shade is that of jade. I guess that develops with any business. But it has yet to happen in the area of publishing and writing. That steady glistening of gold is still there reflecting sparkling shapes and fragments of, triangles, squares, ovals, circles, trapezoids, crescents, parallelograms, octagons, hexagons and pentagons and whatever odd orbed shards refracting prisms of light can produce.
I feel the answer is simple – there is one constant I wrestle with when I write – me. One. Not two, or three, or four, or a committee of eleven. Just me. I am comfortably aware of my own personal , perplexing predilections. I can deal with them in the way I want to deal with them without any anxiety, angst, or anger surfacing.
I can’t do that with the cigar broker business. I can’t do that with any business. There are always the outside variables clinking, clunking and clanking making all sorts of noises and vibrations that toy with you, taunt you, creating intangible tangles of physical confusion that make trying to do what you need to do to get the job (sell a cigar) done possible.
Now there are specific skills I need to properly introduce a cigar to a prospective client. I use these skills, and I add in my own personality to make the mix malleable, or I couldn’t do it. My techniques are mine, the other guy uses whatever finesse works for him. Job done. But the one element that is what makes this such a challenge is the buyer. He’s the unknown factor and that’s where the separation of selling and writing begins to split.
I could recite my articles as the elders once did to the tribesmen. No interference. Just facts, with I’m sure was a little élan thrown in for color and thrill. But producing a cigar is far from a one-man operation. Stitch this to the cloth, selling a cigar is eons from a one-man operation. The variables are in the thousands, whereas the elements exposing an idea are as simple as cracking an egg shell. “Clink.” Yoke and whites, plus the chalaza—pronounced cuh-LAY-zuh— (the little white stringy thing next to the yoke) and it’s totally normal and safe to eat. Put it in the pan and fry. All in the solitude of the mental kitchen – the imagination.
So really I only need the idea – the egg. And then I can begin constructing the concatenation of words to form phrases and then sentences and then paragraphs and then it grows from pieces to segments to develop into an article. From what? An idea. An invisible seed?
Tobacco grows from a seed, but that seed is an actual physical atomic particle that takes up space. An idea takes up no space anywhere until it gestates on the page, the stage, or in film. Gestates. What does that really mean? To carry a fetus in the womb from conception to birth: “rabbits gestate for approximately twenty-eight days” “these individuals gestate male-based litters”. Ideas? Do they gestate? Or do they germinate. They do both. The germination of a seed or spore OR AN IDEA begins to grow and put out shoots after a period of dormancy. Synonyms: sprout, shoot (up), bud, develop, grow, spring up, vegetate. Though I don’t like the connotation of the word “vegetate” as to me that means to be still.
But still, the idea becomes a book, an article, a novel, a biography, an encyclopedia just as the tobacco seed becomes a tiny plant and then a strong stalk, that yields huge and flavorful leaves, that will be fermented and eventually become a cigar.
The difference is one object is from a thing – the other is from thin air. You cannot grow tobacco because you think tobacco. But you can create words with meanings without anything physical.
One makes you crazy the other can calm you down. Which one is for you to keep your sanity? What are the billions of particles that can never be made extinct, homogenized, genetically altered, or destroyed. Ideas. Whereas a cigar can be made to burn into ash and never be recreated. A parallel world of creation with just the exact opposite its methodology of bringing forth life.
One can give you solace, the other a headache with rushes of thunder that beguile Niagara falls. Yet I stay with both as conjoined twins. I dabble, I am the piledriver of both but one is at the end of the yellow brick road the other at the edge of Snæfellsjökull which served as the magnificent setting of the famous, 19th-century novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.
Both greens are exquisite. Each has its own connotation. Colors that contain the same hues but varying amounts of density and reflective properties and over time denote different meanings to the one who is able to think beyond the physical and become permanently embedded in the whimsical world of ideas.
Sing it Al!