a smiling woman holds up a book
Author Dawn Downey shows love to author Sangu Mandanna.

Damn Fine Sentence #27

Dawn Downey


Frequently while I’m reading, a sentence grabs me and forces me to stop. I pay tribute to other authors by sharing their Damn Fine Sentences with you. Then I recount a memory the words bring up for me. It’s about how books connect with your life.

“Witchiness is essential.”
— — — Sangu Mandanna
— — — The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

I woke up with a deadline on my mind. By noon, I needed to finish up the essay in progress and email it to my critique partner. As usual, I’d procrastinated, so the pressure was intense. But during morning yoga class, a brilliant idea for an altogether different essay snuck into my mind. And while I was showering, the brilliant idea turned into words that grew into sentences, which expanded into paragraphs. Sneaky Essay left no brain synapses available for thinking about Deadline Essay. Sneaky Essay was like a song stuck in my head.

I needed my head back.

I wanted to scream, but instead raised my hands in supplication. I said, “Please let me finish Deadline Essay. Pleeeeez. I promise to write you as soon as that one’s done. I swear. I promise. Pleeeeez.”

I cocked my head. Quiet as a tomb in there.

I raced to the laptop and, dripping wet, finished Deadline Essay on time. As soon as I hit send, Sneaky Essay roared back. I kept my promise.