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Monday, April 6, 2015

Alchemy (thoughts on writing lifted directly from my writing journal)

Sometimes I wonder how stories come to me. They don’t come all at once, of that I am certain. I get the scent of a story, or an inkling, but until I begin writing, even if it is only writing like this, then nothing will happen—writing is the alchemy that brings the story into the world. It might exist on the other side, in the ether, but until I put words on the page, I cannot coax it through the passage. I cannot make it manifest into this world without, for lack of a better metaphor, saying the magic words.

And so, I start with an inkling and I tinker away, just like I am doing right now, where I write around the writing until I get something, a moment of bravery, where I will type a few words that might, just might, lead me into a story. I am unsure for a while if they will actually work, uncertain if I have uttered the correct incantation and so I do not commit to them. Yet. Instead, I let them smolder on the page, burn a bit, and see if a story begins to simmer.

Eventually, this inkling begins to grow roots, feet, or something strange altogether, but something the story can stand on none-the-less. And then slowly, like leaves unfurling, the story reveals more of its secrets to me. And the truth is, usually, I don’t even know what I am growing!  Is it a vegetable? A flower? A tree?  They all look the same when they come sprouting out of the ground, but soon, they take their shape.

The hard part is when I think I am growing a flower and it is really a cabbage, a short and stubby thing that does not want to be tall and graceful. It only wants to be a cabbage, and instead of trying to make it into the best cabbage I can, I keep trying to coax it into a lily.

 Never going to happen. 


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