Redeeming Meandering

Ross Gale’s Bereshit Bara Creativity Series has been a joy to follow this summer. Thirteen creatives, many of them writers, offered unique reflections on what gives them “the courage to create”.

If you have not been following the series, I encourage you to check it out now. You even have the option of downloading the complete series as an eBook, or listening to the posts as Podcasts.

Every post added a new voice to the conversation. And I am so grateful that Ross invited me to bring my own thoughts to the table with my post about writing fiction, which went up this week.

Here’s a snippet of “Redeeming Meandering” :

I could tell you that writing fiction feels like making some sinuous watercourse. A river. A creek. A stream.

I could describe my ideas—my characters, even—as the traveling water. The outer banks, you see, could be my imagination. With time and movement, with the mysterious back and forth of my work, these banks would change—expand, and widen. Excitement, clarity, compassion, eloquence—those would be words of my widening. And I would write hoping that when (if) a reader came upon my finished ‘river’ someday, they would be widened, too.

Or I could compare starting a story to carving an elaborate design into a stone. This design would be made from a continuous pattern that bends somewhat wildly, but also repeats. So there would be order in it—an inherent sensibleness to its intricate, echoing motif as I chisel it into place, sentence by sentence.

I suppose, in this scenario, I would hope for my final reader to be both comforted and provoked by my creation’s strange symmetry. That its curvatures would mimic their own experiences, and yet also invite them to the unknown—the challenging realities of others.

But I can’t compare beginning a story to making water rush or slowly chiseling stone. In the six or so years I’ve been seriously attempting short fiction, starting out has felt much different.

Most of the time it just feels like…rambling. Like roaming around without my shoes.

Like meandering.

Unless I accept this—live it out at the desk—writing fiction scares the… Bereshit Bara out of me.

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