Justification, punk

While assembling an online profile about myself recently (more on that later) I mentioned that not only am I driven to write, but I also write while driving.

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This, naturally, elicited a response: “What?! You write while driving?” 

Yeah. I keep lots of notepads and pens in my console and when an idea slams me between the eyes, usually at 70 mph on the Interstate, I’m ready.

This goes back to my reporter days. Way back. Before Wi-Fi. Before laptops and modems were commonplace. Back in those days a reporter drove to a city council meeting, took notes and watched the clock, balancing the need to stay long enough to “get the story” against how much time it would take to commute  to the office and  file the story before deadline.

One of the ways to beat the clock was the write the story’s lead while driving back to the office. Sometimes I’d dictate into a portable tape recorder. But most of the time I’d just reach over to the passenger seat, grab a pen and begin scribbling on my notepad.

I didn’t take my eyes off the road. I kept one hand on the wheel.  At a red light, I’d make adjustments for legibility, clarity. I got quite good at it.

I still do it. My best ideas come to me while driving.

Recently, while driving — but not writing — I tuned in to NPR.  “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross (Dec. 31 broadcast date; sorry couldn’t get a link to stick) was on, featuring an interview with former Punk rockers Mick Jones of the Clash and Tony James of Gen X. They are now in a band called Carbon/Silicon.

genx

Tony James (left) and Billy Idol of Gen X

After a bit of banter about Jones’ and James’ musical roots, Gross asked them where they get their ideas, how they write their songs. And this is where my car probably swerved into the next lane rather unexpectedly as I let go of the wheel and pumped my fists while shouting “Yes!”
They said they write while on the bus (or in the bath, can’t always understand those Brit accents) and while driving.
Yes! Yes! Yes! Exoneration, justification and cred all in one.
Just when I was feeling like my usual dorky self, my Midwestern, semi-weird, mom self, I realized I have something in common with British punk rockers.
Who the hell knew?