I went for a walk yesterday, as soon as the rains stopped. I’d been feeling antsy and kind of stuck, even in my writing. While it was getting done, I was all-too-aware that some of my ideas were beginning to seem…well…stale. Even to me.
I haven’t been walking on the bridle trails much since my dog died. Going there was too difficult for awhile, even though I always thought best while walking there. Stories ideas came to me out of the woods, from the very air, as if the magic of words and inspiration lived there, as if the Muse of Writing inhabited the space under the bridge.
So yesterday I pulled on my mud-shoes and off I went. I’ll admit, pulling in to that parking lot and not popping my dog out of the back seat was hard. Also, with a dog, no one looks twice at you if you walk in the rain; after all, you’ve got a dog, poor sot. Without a dog, people look at you like you’re cracked, possibly dangerous. (Well, if it makes them leave me alone, I’ll take it.)
As I started on the gravel path into the woods (anyone know what that really fine gravel is called by the way? I need to know…read on for why), I thought of how often my dog encouraged me along a tad faster than I’d go on my own, just because she was so eager. I thought how nice it would be to see her alongside me again. I even thought it’d be nice to see her ghost, running loose and free ahead of me, keeping me company, maybe chasing the deer that so fascinated her…
…and that was it. A story idea, fresh and vibrant and bursting with pain and love and fear and emotion all over it! Part of me wanted to run back to the car and write it down. Instead, I pulled out my phone and gave myself a couple verbal reminders with the microphone feature and kept walking, kept refining the story.
It came clearer and clearer, the whole thing deeply layered and interwoven, the twist, the pain…. I’ve never had a story come to me that fast, that whole. Once before this feeling came to me, and I stopped what I was writing on to write it. It was good, but I had to grope around to find the story amidst the images and emotions. Now I’m (I hope!) a better writer, and it all came like an info-dump into my skull.
When I got home, I started writing. I had to stop after a bit, but I went back to it today. And I’m still excited. So far, it’s good. Hard to write, but good. I hope I have the ability to write this the way it felt in my brain as I was creating it there in the woods. I hope the fiction that sprang from my dog’s life, and death, is worthy of her; that I don’t embarrass her or myself. But that’s for another day, after it’s written. My writing group will tell me the honest truth, you can be sure.
So, why mention this? Because there is some activity that each writer does that allows his or her muse to play, to interact directly with the writer’s brain. Find it. Do it. Whether it’s washing dishes by hand, painting walls or walking in the woods, make that activity part of your life, and don’t abandon it. Even when it may bring pain, it will relax your mind, and blow new life into your Muse.
Now, go feed of your Muses. Then, happy writing.
edited to add: after I posted this, the New Post bar gave me this, which seems so appropriate I had to add it here:
My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. —Anais Nin