Saturday, April 16, 2016

Working the Seam

Coal deposits exist far below ground and require considerable effort to extract.  Finding where to dig often means exploring unremarkable territory before finding where coal is located.  Mining then begins only after a tunnel has been dug/drilled through layers of accumulated rock and shale to reach the seam. The danger of exploration is that you may not be able to find a productive seam and must move on to try again, and again, again, again......

Such has been my painful experience for weeks now.  My seam of creativity appeared to have petered out, producing few new ideas that could be extracted from the empty mine. To find a new seam of ideas I have wandered afar, virtually tunneling in my files and through the deposits of previous ideas, discovering dangerous shales of discarded drafts, or only the wet sand of weak plots.  In my metaphoric search for renewal I cursed the empty page, the failed outlines, the truncated attempts to spark fire before the idea fizzled out barely a parragraph out of the gate.*

Then something marvelous happened as I paged through the failed stories, the piles of rejected attempts, and the rough drafts that never matured into a salable form. In a sense I was seeking placer coal, the remnants of mining that did not produce sufficient output for the effort involved. It was my last recourse as a desperate writer; to self plagiarize my younger, brasher, and smarter self.  I threw pride aside and shamelessly exposed material that lay dormant for years.

Among the dreck I found a few things whose problems were obvious to my more practiced eye, some that lacked only a bit of spit and polish to be renewed, and others that, while not worth pillaging, nevertheless contained concepts I'd never expanded upon.  In the end I had a wheelbarrow of things that might prove useful in overcoming my block.  Perhaps some newer ideas will come of the exercise.

At least I'm writing again.

*At this point I ran out of analogies, similes, and metaphors.


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