Thursday, November 24, 2011

What is writing?

Imagine you are a miner, deep underground. The air is heavy and the light dim.  The miner has few tools – a pick, a shovel, a flickering lamp, and if he is lucky, a canary in a cage.

This miner doesn’t actually know what he’s after.  He knows there is a valuable vein in that hole which might be gold, or it might have diamonds;  then again, it might be fool’s gold.

And the canary, well, she’s a lifesaver.  She sings and tweets and flaps her wings as long as that miner is at work.

But look!  He’s thrown away his tools and is looking at his emails, or doing the ironing, or menu-planning or heaven forfend, shopping.

The canary has fallen off her swing and is lying motionless on the bottom of her cage.

That’s me – the chap in the filthy clothes who has chucked aside his kit and is busy doing anything, anything at all, rather than his work.   I think the canary was my Muse.  Not dead yet, but swiftly flying away.

I was a miner.  Now, even a quarry wouldn’t employ me to pick over rubble.



Jim Murdoch said...

That is certainly one way to look at writing. You can make something hard work even when it ought not to be. Metaphors are all well and good but they are only that; they fall short of the truth. Writing is so much more than digging in the dirt and even if that is all it is then accentuate the positive. What keeps those miners (assuming they staked the claim themselves) going down into the bowels of the earth day after day, or the men bent double over panning for gold hour after hour? It’s the possibility that they might chance upon some treasure or other. They sit around the camp fire at night telling tales of other prospectors who discovered the mother lode and they go to sleep dreaming of shiny things.

Susannah said...

Ah yes. :-)

Wonderfully written Isabel.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

I do this often. My first attempt at a novel has lain undisturbed for months as I pick away at other things (PC wise) which are a convenient distraction.

Excellent Isabel.

Anna :o]

jabblog said...

Even miners need holidays!