Stat Counter

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Abandoned Paths

Decided to write another blog post for October ~ mostly because most everything else I wrote today landed in my virtual wastebasket. Some days are like that. I’ve spent hours agonizing on a description only to discover that it doesn’t really matter what kind of plant is growing on the hillside or what kind of caterpillar wears a coat of brown and black.  My character is on a different path; there are no plants on the hillside. No caterpillars either. 

I’m finding out that life is the same way. We think we’re on a certain path, walking towards a certain goal, surrounded by familiar guideposts. But then, something unexpected trips us up and for a moment, we find ourselves lost. Maybe the map we’re holding is outdated or maybe someone we counted on has let us down. Now where? Now what?

If I take a break and take a breath, I’m confident that my character will find his way. More importantly, even the abandoned path has enriched him. His wanderings and false starts make him more real and deepen my understanding of who he is. Where he is not going helps me to understand where he is going.  

Perhaps our own abandoned paths and outdated maps serve the same purpose. I like to think so. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Vague Stirrings & Faint Grumblings


     The leaves have started to turn and already some crunch beneath my feet as I walk.  Despite the gallant efforts of sunshine during the day, dusty lavender and yellowing wisteria affirm the presence of autumn. Soon the birds that have remained to face winter in New York will gather at the feeding lodge in my yard. Together we’ll begin our journey into winter.
     I believe I’ve finally settled on some characters to accompany us, but the stirrings of a new narrative are always a bit vague and tentative. Part of me still lingers in Haiti.  I wonder how Serafina is getting along in the world - I often think about Matt and his family in Vietnam. The story I'm researching now is closer to home, but I've still lots of research to complete and the characters I have begun to imagine remain fragile specters of possibility.
     Writing requires patience. Some days words spill on the page, but some days, especially in the beginning, words are slow and uncertain. Characters need to be coaxed from the shadows and I’m easily distracted by the good-bye call of the wood thrush, the fluttered fall of a leaf. Some days, not so poetically, a faint grumbling in my stomach leads me from my writing table to investigate the refrigerator or pantry.
     Hopefully, by the time the leaves are fully fallen, words will be spilling on the page. By then, birds may gather at the feeding lodge without reminding me that my own stomach is grumbling and perhaps I should investigate.