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    Writer in the Headlights

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It’s dark.

    There’s a long way to go.

    Full tank of gas? Check. Snacks, music, and coffee to keep my eyes from dropping? Check, but not too much coffee - I don’t want to stop The wheel.for anything.

    I’ve got a map, but I drew it myself and it's full of gaps. Part of me hopes to get lost. I’m going somewhere I’ve never been before and I don’t really care if I end up somewhere else. As long I end up somewhere, as long my head-lights shine, illuminating the road ahead, my grip on the wheel will be white-knuckled.

    I will push forward to morning if I have to.

    The road.

    As a metaphor for the writing process, this bland boring image may not seem so appealing. And it also runs the risk of shamefully treading on the toes of Canadian songwriter Tom Cochrane ("Life is a highway. I want to ride it.")("All night long").... but if you are "goin' my way" and taking this put-your-head-down stop-for-nothing approach to pumping out your words, there are many advantages.

    Compared to other "Metaphors of Process" (introduced last week as the "Gardener" and the "Fishermen"), this one is useful for the writer who needs rumble strips to keep from slipping into the ditches of distraction. This type of writer also requires that its operator have strong faith in its abilities and in its vehicle. The vehicle in this case is the narrative or poetic structure and the writer will want to make sure the machinery is running smooth before a long overnight haul. Fill the tires with air. Don't ignore unfamiliar noises your vehicle makes, but don't let them bother you either. Use different gears to pace yourself.

    Disadvantages of the "Tommy Cochrane" process are numerous: 1) it's not all that scenic, 2) it's exhausting, and 3) you may have missed some very interesting turn-offs by speeding right past them in the night. That's okay though. When the sun comes out and we're able to see the mess we've made while we were focused on forward progress, we can put on our garden gloves and hipwaiters and get to work in a different frame of mind. As fishermen, we'll be able to throw a line towards any and every possible digression. As gardeners, we can identify which seeds are worth nurturing.

    And if you went down the wrong highway and ended up stuck at a dead-end, at least you'll know not to take it again next time...

    Looking for more guidance and inspiration for your writing process? These two titles just landed on library shelves:

    (Click to place hold)



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