Exploring those mysterious, underlying forces fueling a writing life

A River Runs Through Me

Where do ideas come from?  Most people tend to think of inspiration coming from a wellspring, a static source, into which you can drop a bucket and pull out ideas.  That doesn’t work for me.   My ideas come from a river, its flow variable and unpredictable as New England weather.

Some days it’s Spring, and the river calmly meanders along at a steady pace.  I wade into the middle of its flow.  I need only dip my hand into its cool depths to retrieve a morsel that spawns a new story.   Until the temperature rises and the dog days of Summer arrive…

My river becomes a trickle, a drought of ideas.  My thirst can hardly be quenched as I gasp for droplets.  I fear my river has dried up and I pray for rain.  It’s all I can do to suck on a few smooth stones from the river bed to create enough juices to keep my writing life alive.  Until the rain comes.  And stays…

My river overflows and I am overwhelmed by the torrent of ideas.  I feel lost in the tumultuous waters, out of control.  One idea crashes into another; pops through to the surface, then disappears before I can grasp it.  I nearly drown from the excess of inspiration.  Eventually, the river calms and so do I…

I am able to look around at the mirage of colors that Fall brings and I get a cosmic sense of how my river and I play only a part in some far greater creation.  That sustains me until Winter comes…

My mind freezes.  I stand along the river bank and wonder if the waters still flow beneath the weight of frigid deadlines and snow drifts of self-doubt.    I tell myself I must stand still, I must breathe, I must listen.  And there it will be.  That faint tinkle, my river’s chime, there to remind me life, ideas, words, still flow underneath.

Sometimes the seasons will each last a few days, a month, maybe more.  And sometimes I get to experience all four seasons within a single day.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.  Under the rocks are the words…

Norman Maclean “A River Runs Through It”

Comments on: "A River Runs Through Me" (4)

  1. Madeline Flood said:

    Michele, I so enjoy reading your blog. Each one is well written and shows us all a piece of you personally. Keep it up – you are a terrific writer!

  2. Ha! I love this! Next time someone asks me, “how’s the writing going?” I’m going to say, “as smoothly as a New England winter!”

  3. Jill Dailey said:

    Michele, love the poetic voice in this piece. I relate to those seasonal cycles, some that can happen all in one writing day!

  4. Michele,
    A river–this is so much better than a spring or well. Loved it! Thanks for signing up to follow my blog. I am now following yours. I didn’t remember knowing you had one. Shout it out. It’s great.

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