Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sand Castles

As a very young kid I carried a pail and shovel and loved to build sand castes on the beach. Crude at first my sand castles grew more complex, more detailed, and larger over time until, one day, I realized that my time for building sand castles was at an end.

My approach to writing was very much like those early attempts.  My pail were the few words and my pail the constructions. In concert these two tools could be used to arrange the sand of creativity into nearly infinite combinations to form a simple story.  The first few stories were modest efforts, hardly complicated in form and content, lacking in detail for the most part, and most failed to impart anything of lasting value.  Later, like the sand castles of my childhood, the stories gained increasing detail, the structures became  more rigorous, and, but only occasionally, I managed to craft something meaningful for the reader.  I even learned to elicit an emotional reaction.

Eventually, as it will with any craft, practice gave me better control over my virtual shovel and pail, and I began dealing not only with background and environmental detail but with more convoluted plotting, increased depth of character, and, hard to believe from this point, actually making conversations sound like, well, conversations.

The one thing that links those first sand castles to the modest body of work that I have built over two plus decades is that neither the sand castles nor the stories last: changes of taste, style, and fablation will eventually wear them down to where they are no longer discernible.  The tides and winds turn the castles into mounds of sand that first mark where they might have stood and later become a faint residue that eventually will become part of the ever freshening sand.

Where the new kids will build their own sand castles.

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