Thursday, May 26, 2011

Writing Is Like a River Trip

My blogger friend, the ever-inventive and imaginative and wildly funny Greenwoman, has come up with a new challenge. It's called Writing Is Not Like a Box of Chocolates: A Meme.

These are her rules:
"Take the phrase “Writing is like . . .” and finish it. Post it on your blog. Tag three others to do the same. That is all. See how easy that is?"

I know that Greenwoman expects me to say that writing is like dancing with goats wearing spangly pants, or like battling a woodchuck who keeps taunting me with a blank sheet of paper and rude hand gestures, or like wandering into a drainage ditch wearing my best Lilly Pulitzer frock—but finding a crop of diamonds and a chilled martini shaker at the bottom of the ditch.

There, now I've said all those things to please her, because she deserves it. But I'm going to write something else. Something "not silly" and "not funny." (Hold onto your party hats!) I'm used to being funny, so writing something "not funny" feels like I just tossed my pants into the hog pen and am standing here looking wan and dumb, and the scarecrow is giving me the leery eye. (Maybe this happens on Greenwoman's farm?)

Sometimes I don't gotta be funny. Here you go.

Writing is like paddling a canoe through a tract of waterways as vast as the world. Your boat moves through glades and narrow channels, whisking down rapids. You move north, ever north, through a landscape that you made and lost once in a dream.

At times, the river widens and spills you out onto a great body of water, and you are a small thing under a hollow and terrible bowl of sky. The distant shore cannot be seen, although you shade your eyes with your hand. You pull forward all the same. There is the outlet, there is the way home. The river closes around you once again, and the current takes you.

Sometimes you hear laughter and voices over the hedges that line the banks. One morning a dragonfly settles on the gunwale, and stirs its blue wings. You are lost, quite fully lost, and you know it. You can let the canoe drift in lazy, spinning circles, or you can paddle fierce and hard for the far shore.

Either way, you’ll get there. You will be carried. You will carry yourself, when the drought comes and dries up the riverbeds.

You emerge into a bright patch of sunlight and hear the buzz and fall of summer heat. Sometimes your boat slips down dim alleyways of water lined by stately trees. Sometimes it rains on the big lakes, and you pray you’ll make it home alive.

You might look over the edge of your boat one day and see a gift on the bottom of the shallow river, shot through with light. A bag of stones. A letter from a loved one. A ribbon, a coin, a flash of fish scales in the murk, falling down and down. Trivial, lovely.

You pull up your treasure. Your boat drifts, and the dusk falls. Your hands are dripping with discovery. You wonder: Who put this there? Who left this gift? Then you remember: You yourself dropped that bag of memory into the dark waters. You hid it there. Everything beautiful is waiting to be found.
Now I'm tagging three people who shall take this meme and run with it. They are:

Mary Frame
Because her excellent and helpful blog posts about the craft of writing lead me to believe her answer to this will be thoughtful and thought-provoking. (No pressure, Mary--if you want to say that writing is like a jar of pickles and not explain why, you go right ahead.)

Kalen O'Donnell
Because he's crazy! And he threatened me for my ARCs! So now I have him dart-gunned, bagged, and tagged. (By the way, his threats have paid out, and ARCs will be given away next week. Stay tuned.)

Tracey Hansen
Because she will do what I should have done and write something lewd, rude, and soaked in wine! I hope. Yes, please?


Anita said...

Oh, my friend. What a beautiful and thought provoking metaphor. Thank you for sharing the poignant side of you. I've seen glimpses in other posts, but this one really touched my heart. <3

greenwoman said...

This. Is. Brilliant. I love you even more, actually. Bravo, much applause, and tossing of sparkly goat pants.

traceyhansenwrites said...

Oh yay I love this idea. Working on it now, will be up tomorrow! : )

Marewolf said...

OMG! That was amazing. I LOVeD the hands dripping with discovery! And so much more, but I can't get into it now because I'm a work using my cell to read this (in the bathroom).

Thanks for your nice comments about my blog. Now I have to start thinking of something good!

(Very scared I have to follow YOUR brilliant post, and #mejealous!)

Bethany C. said...

hee...Kalen's in trouble!

Angela V. Cook said...

Wow, you are truly talented, my funny (and now thought provoking) friend. That was beautiful and exactly what I needed to read after the day (okay, week) I've had. Well done :o)

cherie said...

Jenny, I love this side of you--well I love all of YOU, but this was something new. Your writing is beautiful, the imagery lovely. Thank you for sharing this. I think you've inspired us all. :)

The Rake said...


Trying not to tear up while at friends' in Vermont and while our boys muck themselves up with pizza sauce.

Riley Redgate said...

^ cherie - I am feeling tingly with inspiration as I type this! Such a well-thought-out, beautiful simile. :D

Sam Southworth said...

Go, Pony, Go! I felt as if I could smell the woodsmoke and hear the has unleashed the DeHaviland Beaver in my soul, and loosed the intertwined dragons painted on my canoe! Thank you, old friend, for sharing all sides of yo' mental multiverse, delivering to us both spangly pants and big-ass lakes. Cabbages and laurels of praise should rain down on you, and fat and jolly l'il chrubs should sing you to sleep if you are restless! Blessings to you, o deft wordsmith, who with such subtle prosedy hath furnished our heads, hearts and worlds with such thoughtful treasures and jewels beyond measure!