I love to write, but it’s not an absolute love. I don’t love to write everything.
For example, my job offers some opportunities to write technical articles, and I do write a few; I’ve written nine so far this year. I’m now in a project where I will be creating training materials.
These are dry, boring documents to write. I don’t love it. I once wrote a best friend’s eulogy. I didn’t love that, either. The act of writing is not enjoyable of itself, only.
Sometimes, what gets me through the day is knowing that I will go home that night and work on my novel. Or a short story. Or even a blog post, if it’s inspired. It is then that I adoringly love the act of writing – sitting down in my worn desk chair, alone, in my darkened home-office, placing my hands on the keyboard or typewriter, and creating something.
Stephen King says that stories are like fossils buried in the ground. He says they are already there and it is the job of the writer to surface them as intact as possible.
I don’t know if I agree with that. To me, it is more like growing a tree. I get a seed from somewhere. Might be something from the news or something I heard. Very often, the seed is something I experienced, firsthand.
Whatever it is, I take that seed, plant it, and fuss over it, reveling when the first leaf breaks the soil. I care for it as it grows, nurturing and watering it, but not too much. I do this until one day, I see it towering over my head, blocking the sun with it’s branches and leaves.
At that point, I’d like to think I can stop being the caretaker and prop my back against it. Just take a nap like that, knowing it is solid and will be unchanged when I wake.
So there is the “A Story is Like a Tree” metaphor. I’ve never heard it referred to in this way, but I am confident I was not the first to say it. It’s corny, I know. Digging up fossils sounds cooler, so maybe King is right. If high school taught me anything, it was that cool is right.
So stories are fossils, and that is that.
© 2013, Mitch Lavender
- On Writing: A Lesson in Vulnerability (lanternhollowpress.com)
- King of Horor (today1dotorg.wordpress.com)
- The Seeds of Stories (pekoeblaze.wordpress.com)