Story telling from Australia
To scribble and erase and scribble again. That’s poet Mary Oliver, describing her craft as quoted in this fascinating weekly insight into creative work, Brain Pickings Weekly.
Mary was talking about the need to find a place of solitude in order to write without interruptions from phones, or a knock at the door, or the sound of the post arriving.
You know the post is there – you heard the postie deliver it – do you go out now and have a look at what’s arrived? Will it be something that will take your attention away from the task at hand? Do you ignore it and wait until later? And will a small part of your brain spend the next hour wondering what’s in the box? The problem, of course, is one of concentration, of being able to shut out everything else so you can concentrate on the task at hand.
(And on the subject of postboxes, here’s another intriguing blog I came across recently, Ron’s Country Musings, from an ex policeman who lives in a trailer park. Ron’s writing may not be as sophisticated as anything you’ll find in Brain Pickings but it’s equally valid. Ron notices things, and that’s the mark of a good writer.)
How much do you ignore friends and family in the pursuit of something so tenuous as chasing words? How do you capture fleeting ideas in such a way that you can fully express them, not pin them down and squash all the life out of them?
It’s a task that takes all your concentration, yet it can seem so trivial. How can it take precedence over staying in touch with people you really love, never mind the ones you merely like? All in the name of a story?
In the end, we choose what matters to us. I’ve only recently understood that writing matters to me, even when it feels like the story I’m trying to write is a wayward child, throwing tantrums and hiding in a corner. Words matter. Ideas matter.
I doubt if the insects that made the marks on this Scribbly Gum tree had any set pattern in mind, but what they’ve created is beautiful.
That’s what writing feels like. You follow the thread of a story and see where it might lead. It’s a risky strategy. You’re putting your trust in a journey without knowing exactly where it’s going, but surely that’s part of the adventure. That’s where the excitement lies.
As a writer, even when you reach what feels like a destination you then have to turn around and go back to the beginning. Revise, reshape, edit. Send those scribbles in the right direction. That’s when the real work starts.
It gets harder as I get older, and it gets easier.