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IMG_2180copycopysmall.jpg Autumn in Independence, Missouri image by etully








Ruts in the writing life happen. We grasp our way through a story, do the research, and realize it’s not the one we’re supposed to tell. At least not yet. We bump along in that rut for awhile until a new path

appears, scattered with red and orange leaves, shining glass-like in
the sunshine. If we’re really lucky, we figure this out before page
ten, which was the case with my recent novel. The only problem was, I
didn’t have another start from scratch story.


Or so I thought.




It does a writer good to peer through a new window. Visit places we’ve never been. Meet people we’ve never met. If we can’t do that, we can always explore areas in our own neck of the woods that we’ve neglected. Anything to show us the mysterious, quirky and fresh side of life.

On a recent trip to Vermont, a place I’d never visited, a shiny new story snuck in. I was sitting on the steps of our cabin at sunset, wind bristling in trees, leaves like candy wrappers, colliding with each other, swirling, twirling, and dancing, air fragrant with roots and conifers. Straight ahead an abandoned dirt road, a rusted model T Ford off to one side. To my right a red barn, skirted next to an 1800’s colonial farmhouse. Just as I looked, a woman’s black silhouette appeared and paused in the window. I could feel something beginning. It slid through the wind and landed, smiling on my lap.


Sometimes a clear moment is all it takes: a sunny day flecked with the unusual, or dusk in Vermont. The writer in us is always drawn to what’s behind the mountain and down the lonely dirt road. We excavate stones from these places and arrange them in a circle. These stones represent life: the sensual, brutal, wonder, abandonment, love, honor, awe, failure, and death of our existence. We arrange stones we collect along the way into stories that help us make sense of our world. Sometimes we, as much as our readers, just need to be entertained. And there’s the rub-a good novel can and does do both.

I fancy this ancient Chinese proverb: A bird does not sing because it has an answer-it sings because it has a song.

If you're struggling, look through a new window dear writer and your song will find you.

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Comment by Carissa Galow on October 9, 2010 at 5:38pm
How true, it does a soul wonders to look through a new window, if you will from time to time....I really like this and shall have to put this into practice, especially when I feel stuck and unsure....
Comment by Dorraine Darden on October 2, 2010 at 11:35am
It's good to smile, Stephen! So happy I could give you that. Thanks!
Comment by stephen dijoseph on October 2, 2010 at 12:49am
makin me smile..you are! thanks SO much 4 this!
Comment by Dorraine Darden on September 29, 2010 at 9:10pm
Thanks so much, Susie and Wiffie! I was really trying to make the other story fit, but it was like the wrong pair of shoes, pinching my toes. :-) So, here comes a new one in studded high heels!
Comment by wiffledust on September 29, 2010 at 7:54pm
oh this is beautiful, drainy!!! i love it. it's so true. it really doesn't take SO SO much to be inspired if you let it in or just peer through something differently or a different something.you expressed this so beautifully. and i'm so glad you mentioned the part about a story entertaining US the writers....because i think therein is a HUGE part of it all!!! so lovely....please write more!!! xxx

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