Sweetened Condensed Prose

Come on Miguel where do you get that Goat Rodeo stuff and how do you get it out of the can?  It seems too thick  to just pour right out.  So what do you do to get at it?

I’ve been spending more time wandering through the fields of growing stories, inspecting their progress and examining which ones are filling out nicely and which ones are calling to me.  They grow quite a bit on their own and usually just need a little pruning and shaping   At some point I have to harvest an armload of material and bring it into the kitchen.  I’ll start the prep with some idea in mind of what the flavor should be  and I’ll just start working, tapping a bit out , fast or slow and then I’ll taste it.  I work by taste and I adjust it as I go.  Every bit of advice I have ever read about the craft of writing advises against this approach.  “Don’t edit as you write”, they all say.  “It inhibits your free flowing creativity”, they say.  “Just get the story down and then go back and edit it”… they …say.

I might as well jump into a swamp and try to balletically traverse its mires.  I have tried the approach the Experts propound and ended  up with an unruly patch of brambles. I started with a good idea and good energy, liked the flow, but in coming back  have hacked and chopped the poor defenseless words into a stuttering, prickly shrub that is unbalanced and will not flower. So I have been finding my own way.

I nurture the tempo and tend the choice of words turning them over in my head, walking up and down the rows, weeding as I go and trying their feel in my mouth to achieve the aesthetic while also delivering the goods to market, telling the story. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong. Either way, I have found I don’t write enough. I don’t dedicate the time to writing that I think it deserves.

That’s why I have joined a writing class, and the method is definitely “Just get it out and onto the page without engaging the “Editor”. And I am learning the value of that…. letting that uncensored part of the creator free to run wild. Loosen up and put the person who wants perfection in the penalty box during this initial phase of the process. That bastard is wiley though, used to having his say when he wants it.

Now I am trying both ways of writing… the slow word tasting, Bonsai cultivator and the open your seed-bag and scatter them in every direction, flying on the wind to surprise you with their arrangement and their beauty when, later on, you stop and assess what you have done.

You hear about being on this Earth for a limited time and how it is important to share your gifts, not squander them. If it is a gift or not is for you readers to say. But if it is I may well have been squandering it. When I think I set out to be a writer after high school almost 40 years ago and have let the fields of ideas lie fallow for that time… well, you see what I mean.

On the other hand one must pluck the fruit when it is ripe, and by gosh, I’ve got some harvesting to do before the crop spoils! The thing is you don’t want to let time pass you by and never do what it is you are meant to do, but neither do you want to rush and puke out some not yet ready rubbish just to have it out there. So as I see it I should be about nicely ripe at this time of my life. The impatience and laziness and unwillingness (or inability) to be still that characterized my younger self have softened and given way to … to what? It feels like a more forgiving and tolerant person lives in my shell now. I mean forgiving and tolerant of myself. I’m not cool. I don’t have to look good or be the best at something. I can just be me. And enjoy it.

When I share that in my brand of writing it feels good. If there’s a way to twist some words out of the air and get their fresh tang onto the page… What else is there? That is me.

That is how I do it.