Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Bonfire of Creativity

Photo courtesy of David Learoyd
There is an essay in my book called "A Walk In the Woods". In that essay I write about how moving to rural Nova Scotia "was like piling all my suppressed ideas inside the fire pit in the yard and lighting a match: I became a bonfire of creativity. All I wanted to do was write. Walk, write, write some more, and then walk again."

Now that Field Notes, the book, is published and the fall book events are done, now that Christmas is over and the long, cold winter months are upon us: The bonfire of creativity is about to light up the grey country sky once again.

I love this time of year, the anticipation of projects about to be started, the thrumming of ideas inside my body, the energy that is coursing through me on every walk with the dog.
I can't speak for other writers but the winter months are prime writing months for me. This is when I get shit done. 

And here, my friends, is the power of the field: My cousin David posted this photo and a brief statement about it being the wedding gift of his grandfather to his grandmother ninety years ago and that it is now his to tune and play and enjoy. One, that would be my great-uncle Everett and my great-aunt Vera, and two, as soon as I read his sentences, a short story started poking me.
Since a week earlier, I'd received a notice about a short story contest, now I had both a deadline and a story. Or rather, the poking of one; it was time to get this story flat out slapping me.
Off I went for a walk with the dog; this is my process, so much so, I think it's time to install a hut with a chair and table inside it at the edge of the woods so I can pause in my walking in order to write. Normally, I only do one loop around the neighbour's field but on this day, "We're going around again," I told the dog, because I was working out the plot of that story.
"If you know the ending, you can write the story," I'd told my mother earlier in the day, and by the time I'd completed the second loop around the field, I knew exactly how the story would end.

This is what the first few months of this particular new year means to me: For the first time in my life, the writing truly will come first. I have my projects -- three books, one essay and a short story -- and nothing will distract me. I have my part-time job and a book event in February, there are movies to watch that we missed seeing at the theatre last  fall, but the writing comes first. No matter what, no matter who. Even if it means ignoring someone or being late, even if it means the laundry stays piled on top of my dresser, I will write first; I will not let the bonfire of creativity die down.

And in the spirit of that revolutionary resolution, I came inside the house after our walk, waved to the visitor in the living room, and high-tailed it upstairs to my office to write down the outline of the story and its ending. The time has come to sacrifice everything but the ideas.

Bring on the cold, bring on the wind, bring on the snow flurries and the rain. It is a new year, I am finally a published author, and there are logs to be thrown on the fire.

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