Letting It Ferment

Writing allows me to process my thoughts and experiences. It is therapeutic in the sense that it allows the “poison” of experience to be diluted, while being flushed into the wider universe. Often, I don’t quite know how an experience is affecting me until I’ve taken time to think it through, deeply. I need to let it ferment so I can better understand it.

I write the way I think; in fragments. My vignettes capture snapshots of the way my mind works. Rather, they capture mental images of what my mind sees and experiences. Only after spending literally hundreds of hours reading and reviewing and thinking about the vignettes I have written have I been able to see the cohesion. Yes, they are fragments, but they are not haphazard, random, unrelated scraps. I’m gradually reaching the conclusion that they represent an intricate web of thoughts that, though perhaps convoluted, fit together like an enormously complex three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

When I refer to my “vignettes,” I include both my fiction and my idea dumps; the latter, those essay-like rants that look and feel like a physical expression of the thought process. Collectively, they represent evidence of the way I think and what goes through my mind. Sometimes, my mind is a densely packed jumble of volatile ideas at risk of detonating at the slightest provocation. Other times, my mind is an empty, cavernous wasteland, devoid of intelligent, much less rational, thought. When the two combine to form a swirling, pulsing mass of yin and yang, I think the possibility exists that the developing patterns are aligning themselves in such a way as to form cohesive ideas out of what might seem to be a primordial soup. At least I hope so.

At any rate, I’ve spent considerable time trying to identify and contemplate patterns I’ve seen in my writing. And I think I’ve succeeded in finding them. That’s not to say the patterns contain any particularly meaningful messages, nor that they are the stuff of literature. But neither are they entirely meaningless drivel. Granted, many are, but not by any means all. There’s some “meat” there. I have yet to discern whether it’s pork, chicken, goat, beef, or iguana; but there’s something there. It’s there, almost hidden in the themes and patterns that keep repeating themselves in my writing.

Some days, I feel confident I’ve almost identified the core themes and the connective tissue that weaves them together and keeps them alive. But, then, I temporarily lose the sense that I’m almost there. I suppose it’s cyclical, though the cycles seem almost random.

I understand I am the only person who can make any sense out of this screed. Anyone who’s not inside my head must read these paragraphs and assume I’ve been eating mushrooms and drinking whiskey all night. That’s assuredly not the case. But my vocabulary isn’t sufficient to describe what’s going through my head. That notwithstanding, I think I’m onto something; just by catching a glimpse of the patterns of how I think gives me confidence I’m making headway. Whether that progress continues remains to be seen. Whether I can stitch together a decent intellectual robe from mental debris is a question still unanswered.

There’s still room for more fermentation. The outcome could be drinkable wine or putrid vinegar. Time will tell, in its own good time.


About John Swinburn

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