It was different when I wrote “for a living,” meaning assignments every day and two or three features every day. That job wasn’t even so much writing as it was completing a certain formula and submitting it on time.
What I am doing now is very different, much more satisfying and very much a place of discovery.
Somewhere in the back of my mind where I’m not even conscious of it, an idea is simmering. It bubbles and brews while I go about doing my “thing” – which usually involves walking or hiking – and then one day, when it’s good and ready, it pops out and I look at it and say, “Yes, why not?”
If I work at it, I can usually find where the seed of the idea came from – and like all seeds, in order for it to grow it needs to be set in fertile soil in the dark where something magical can take place. There’s no point in bringing it to light too early – that will only halt germination. I’ve seen this process so many times that I now have complete faith that if I plant enough seeds and just leave them alone, each one will sprout in its own time.
To continue with the gardening analogy (icky? trite?) I notice that when a fully formed idea pops up, I experience the same sense of excitement as when the cucumbers or beans pop their little faces above the earth. I never take this process for granted. It’s a true miracle every time: that this tiny little thing can contain all of life inside it.
Sometimes I go for days and even weeks without a single idea for what to write. And then – bam! There it is! And now that a new idea has surfaced, I am excited – eager to get it down on paper.
There’s another process in the craft of writing that is both amazing and perplexing – taking ideas and thoughts and shaping them into a concrete story that others will want to read – and, hopefully, enjoy reading. It’s about finding the right words, the correct tone, the flow – all of this is the most exceptional process. When it works, when all the stars align and it comes together, it really is a most gratifying thing.
And so – I am a writer, leading this crazy, inexplicable writer’s life. I knew I would do this from the day I could wield a pencil. I came here by a circuitous route but even when I was editing and directing films, the gaol was always to tell a story – a story that would inspire others to action.
I have always had this calling – it just took a long time to put words to it and to become fully conscious of it. I often don’t realize how fortunate I am to be living it. There are times I wonder where hiking fits in – especially in the alpine where my spirit lives. I know that it’s a “must-do.” I suspect, given my experiences, that hiking is what inspires me – the alpine, the mountains – they fill me with wonder. It is from them (from nature, to which I am fully connected) that I draw my inspiration. And so it goes full circle to giving that inspiration back.
It’s not a bad way to live.