(July 24, 2008)

I used to think that writing was an act of fire. I'd wait for the heat to build inside of me until there was no choice but to let the words out; they left charred paths in my mind, indelible evidence of their birth. There were no ideas until they ignited into existence, and if they weren't used rapidly, they dwindled like a match whose phosphorus has been exhausted. I had no idea how to write, really, except when in the middle of the blaze.

Things have changed; writing is now an act of water. A deep ocean lined with ten thousand ideas flows in my mind, inviting and filled with promise but invisible when I lose sight of the shore. There are still some sudden revelations when a sentence or an image washes up on the beach, but most lie waiting to be found. Instead of a vessel, I am now expected to be a force; my thoughts are the waves that sculpt concepts into stories, slowly smoothing them into their proper forms. I must actively shape the process instead of letting it take control, because that is the path to mastery.

Now that I understand this, it will be much easier. The underlying excitement of creation will never go away, but the deeper technique demands more than a broad vocabulary and painfully bright visions. Those are the materials, but it is up to me to put them to use, to flow like the sea and remember the lesson of water: grand things are achieved in tiny increments, and patience grants everything in time.