Stones In The Stream

I love to sit beside running water:  a river, a stream, a creek. The rushing tumble of sound is somehow thrilling and soothing at the same time. The power of water to shape rock and land is there before your eyes. A river is ever-changing and yet ever the same. Such places are full of peace and inspiration for me.

Here’s me in one of my happy places: 

Me in my happy place
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

The other thing I love to do with running water is to rearrange it.

There is inevitably a pool of still water somewhere near the banks, or a place where a branch has fetched up against some rocks. Nature put them there, and I love to add my hands and my mind — as small and human as they are — to her forces.  Move the branch, redirect the path of the water so it flows through the pool again.

You never know what might happen downstream.

What does this have to do with writing?

I’ve been revising two novels at once. You would think that would be a recipe for disaster. I sure did when I began. By all rights, I should have put one of them aside and worked on the other. More specifically, I should have worked exclusively on the one that the agent was interested in.

The word “should” is a powerful motivator for me. In the other direction.

Oh, sure, I was waiting for critiques from my buddy in Connecticut. And yes, I was waiting for my subconscious to work on it. I had not looked at or thought about this story in years until the agent asked about it so I needed some time to get back into it. I had to mull it over.

It wasn’t fear AT ALL.

While I was gingerly picking up stones over here, helping the water flow into this still and quiet pool, the funniest thing happened.

Downstream, the water started to move in ways I had not anticipated.

Things that had been murky and obstructed with the other novel — branches across the stream — suddenly opened up. Where I had lacked ideas, scenes that made perfect sense emerged. They were obvious, in fact. They were revealed. Uncovered.

So I hopped across the metaphorical rocks and started working over there. Tossing stones into the water, making it flow in another direction. Listening to the crystalline splash made by fist-sized rocks, and the hollow crack-BOOM when a big stone skips off a boulder and hits a deep pool.  Teetering on slick, half-submerged stones and wiping my wet, silty hands on my old beige shorts.

And, you guessed it, the still pool back on the other side began to flow.

I have been incredibly busy, these past two months. Having fun, working hard, heaving stones around in the stream.


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