A Life of Precision Unrelenting

April 19, 2007

There is an old saying that mothers are fond of telling their children, and it goes a little something like this: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

These were not the words by which Houston Broadway lived his life, but they were close. As a child, while still in the care of his two eclectic parents, Houston had come upon a single idea to which he devoted himself: “If it could not be said with perfection, than it was not worth saying at all.”

Houston lives on his own, in the present day. Though still young, he has achieved a measure of fame for his exceptional poetry – every line exquisite, every poem ideal. His work is not common, for each poem takes him months to complete – but it is widely agreed that each one is a masterpiece in its own right. He tried his hand at prose, but he lost a year of his life composing the shortest of stories, and was so depressed by the entire experience that it yet remains, unread, safely stored away upon his home computer.

Houston liked computers. In person, for all his skill with words, he came across as shy and even a little slow. Prone to the occasional statement of masterful insight, he found himself far too often with nothing to say. Every word must be considered, every sentence tested in his mind, and often by the time a statement met his specifications… the moment had passed. Only rarely did one come to him fully-formed, and this made social engagements an encumbrance he had no desire to put up with.

It was easier, on the internet. He spoke with some few individuals whom he held in high regard. He had time to plan his correspondence, and though even here his response time was slower than all others, he was able to compose his words without the heated stares of an impatient crowd. It was a comfort to Houston, and he had few enough of those in life, for all his success.

His writings were undeniably powerful, but they were exhausting endeavors on his behalf. For most poets, revision is a byword for success. Begin with a draft of the piece. Review it, revise it, refine it. Correct weaknesses in the writing and make alterations as one’s vision of the piece changes. Edit and adapt, and produce a final, polished work.

Houston did not write in this fashion. He wrote one line at a time, one word at a time. In his head, perhaps, he ran through myriad possibilities, and foresaw the options each one might lay out before him… but whether he was recording on paper or upon electronic file, each word was placed a single time and then forever set in stone. No matter how long it took. No matter how difficult it was. No matter how much of his life burned away while he sat, and thought, and wrote.

Houston Broadway was a man of great skill. His life, like that of all others, had elements both good and bad. He would not say that his life made him happy, but he would, perhaps, say that it was his own, and that he took some comfort in knowing that it was unique and special to him alone.

He would not say it in that fashion, nor would he say it with those words – but I am not Houston Broadway, and I am content to convey these few imperfect words, and nothing more.

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