Creativity, Writing, Trees and Stories
There are times in life when reflection and looking back becomes almost mandatory, at least for me. The timing does not always coincide with events, season, change or responsibilities. Often these seem to imply the need for introspection, but I think it is more illusion than fact. Times of personal trial are times that character shows. Character is built during the in-between times as we go through life.
The best correlating factor I have found is my desire to write, to tell stories, to engage in the catharsis that putting words to paper always gives me. That desire, in turn, forces thinking, thinking to sorting, categorizing, recognizing, perceiving in the conscious mind what the subconscious has digested and wishes to regurgitate.
It is a strange cycle of creativity I both love and loath. Often the idea for a story comes from a simple question I am asked or ask myself. However, the question is not the “what if?” kind. That would be too obvious. Those questions lead to science fiction stories. No, the questions that spur my thinking, my urge to tell stories are more the “how did this happen?” the “Why?” Recently, I have had cause to think on what I wish to accomplish with the time left to me and what I have accomplished so far. No, these introspections are not as big as words on paper seem to make them. More so, they come slowly, one sentence at a time, fragments of thought drifting in, stolen from a book I am reading, a song I hear, a quip from a friend.
I look at my professional decisions and why I choose tree work. For the work? Yes. For the people? Yes. A known and safe path for me? Yes. My family and friends approved? Yes. However, I maintain a suspicion that something deeper lies at the core of the decision. You see, like all of us, I had many paths to choose. My service in the Army opened opportunities, my education others. The list is extensive, yet I choose trees.
I also choose to write; to pursue the often lonely, always, grueling path of chronicler of words, thoughts and ideas to the page. I realized at university that how I write is how I think. I believe that to be true for everybody. I also discovered that to improve one was to improve the other. In order to clear my mind, to organize the trials and tribulations of a young man, a student, a combat veteran, I set off down the path of writing. I stopped for a while. Immersion in life, work, relationships,marriage seemed to not coincide with the writing path. The tree work path proved a better road to travel. I thought then the two were separate, parallel, never to cross. To tread one meant foregoing the other.
Money played into my decision. Writing, for all its rewards, does not pay well. Certainly exceptions exist. I am not one. The physical act of writing, for me, requires energy. Lots of it. I hunt and peck away for a few hours. Get three or four “good” pages and I am exhausted, mentally. I need loud music, time alone or with others who do not require interaction beyond spending time and a cold drink. I now understand Hemingway better! If it is true what William Faulkner said, that “to pour out liquor is like burning books,” then no books get burnt around my house!!
Part of this is my introverted personality. For me writing is communication, with myself, with my intended audience, with the world. Sitting alone, cup of cooling tea, keyboard and screen in front of me, I envision myself on a stage making a speech to millions. I love both sides of the page that is writing. I found a desire to write well requires reading, a lot of reading! I love the act of sitting down and losing myself in a good, book, story or article. More so, I love the act of creating that experience for another.