My mind is skipping like a rock on a choppy pond; just one wave sends that stone plunging to the bottom.  I’ve been reading, here and there, about topics of interest, but I can’t keep my mind on what I’m reading long enough for it to sink it. Why is it, then, that my train of thought plunges beneath the water, but knowledge skips away like a flat stone, expertly thrown, on a smooth lake?

This morning, my thoughts have skittered along, visiting the potential value of meditation. My mind could use a rest, I think; maybe that’s what I need to regain focus. But, then, an idea for a novel invades my brain.  Soon, though, I abandon it when I realize the amount of research and dedicated writing time required, especially when the story so quickly loses its appeal.

Many of my ideas for longer works of fiction are like acquaintances; they are interesting for a short while, but too much time with them becomes an unwelcome intrusion. A long piece, something that might evolve into a novel, has to be a close friend with whom I want to spend a great deal of time. I have many acquaintances; friends are as rare as extinct birds.

Perhaps the problem is this: too much energy expended on the technical aspects of writing and not enough on the emotional aspects. Ultimately, it’s the story, not the ways it’s written. The story must come first. The story, not the writing, captures the imagination. If it weren’t so, those who master the mechanical processes of writing would be the best writers; the technicians would have huge, devoted audiences. Yet the way it’s written gives the story life; so it is about the way it’s written, after all.

I’m not sure I’m enough of a story-teller to be an excellent writer. I like to write—I have to write—but I think in vignettes, not in plots. Weaving disparate vignettes together may not be the best way to write a long piece of fiction, but writing those vignettes is a guilty pleasure.

There’s been talk lately of a writers’ retreat, a several-day-long trek to a place called The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. I want that. I want time dedicated exclusively to writing, punctuated by meals or evening gatherings with other writers. It takes time to cast off the veils that hide who we are; that might be just the ticket.

Until then, whenever “then” is, I’ll continue to slog away, writing here and there and wondering where it’s going and why I keep passing by the same sign post, over and over and over again.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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