Tree Post

Our house guests returned to their home on Wednesday and we’ve been in recovery mode since then.  As much as we love our family, sometimes it’s nice to see them return  to their home.  I am sure we gave our guests a great visit, but that time is over and other projects are calling.

I’ve been wanting to get back to writing and actually sat down the other night thinking I’d write something.  Then sanity took over and I went back out to watch TV instead.  All the activities this month have left me mentally exhausted so I’ve been as my father would have said, “Letting my brains slop into the back of my head and not think about anything.”

As my brain slops around back there, some thoughts do percolate up from time to time I think as about some bit of writing.  I did go back and review the comments from last Sunday’s post and count what folks said they’d like me to write about.  The orphan trains and trees came out on top.  Self-publishing and the blog post each got a mention.  I did get more than one suggestion that I should write about all of them, or any of them.

So, I guess it’s onward to everything.

Writing for me takes place in a number of phases and each needs to happen before a final piece actually makes it through my fingers and onto this screen.  There are four basic phases for me:

1. Breathing in, gathering creative energy.
2. Research, thinking, questioning.
3. Sitting at the keyboard typing.
4. Editing.

Breathing in is that process where I let the energy of the world enter in my being.  It’s a time where I am just in a place that can inspire me, comfort me, heal me or take me out of the pains and trials of everyday life.  Sounds mystical.  I do this by doing things like hiking in the woods, going to a museum, attending a play, working in my shop, going to the men’s group at church, or having lunch with a friend.  It’s a vital part of writing, but it purposely avoids writing or thinking about writing.  It’s simply a time to breathe deep and let your soul fill.

The next step depends on the kind of writing I am going to do.  Sometimes I think a lot about a piece of writing.  Sometimes I do formal, scholarly research on my subject.  Sometimes I just look up a website or read a news story.  Sometimes I write and outline. What I do during this phase varies a lot depending on what I am writing.  For example to write about red wood trees I might look at a picture or two, think of times I’ve hiked beneath them before sitting down to write.  For a project like the orphan train, I’ll want to read a bit more in-depth, gather a few references, think about my reaction to the play, write a brief outline and so on.  This process could take hours, which is why you’re not going to read about trains today.  That is still a work in progress.

Actually sitting down at the keyboard is the easiest part of the whole process.  If I’ve done the first two steps right, keyboarding is simple.  All I need is my word process up on the screen, body position in correct ergonomic form and perhaps other windows open with all my notes and references.  From there, it’s just work.

Editing is a pain, but has to be done.  For blog posts, I’ll do a quick editing pass and I’ll ask Heather to do an editing pass.  I have three goals in editing: Reduce the word count; correct obvious spelling and grammar errors; and try to say something worth reading.  Never easy, but likely the most important step.

And then I think of the trees.  Standing at the base of a red wood I am amazed how big it is and how tall it grows.  Walking through the grove you can see where fire has touched them.  Then the wind picks up and you can see tops sway.

Letting my eyes drop to the forest floor, I see a small sapling poking it’s way out of the leaves.  Each year it grows a little.  Each year it’s a little different.

Writing is a bit like that for me – each time my fingers hit the keys, something is a little different.  Hopefully a little better.  Hopefully.

Till next week,
Andrew

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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18 Responses to Tree Post

  1. For me, it’s always been two steps forward, one step back. And that seems to work reasonably well. The pauses and back-stepping always teach me something for the next forward movement, if I pay attention, and they can re-energize the journey as well. And, even though we get in habits and tend to frame our understanding of ourselves in the context of those, like trees, we have so many small surprises and variations in who we are and what we do that not one of the anomalies is necessarily wasted. Pause, refresh, reset, re-start, and grow. Great post! 🙂
    Kathryn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. davidprosser says:

    I hope you managed to get infused with enthusiasm and energy for writing again after your visitors had left. Though visitors are wonderful they can still be a drain on energy. Your long walks into nature sound very uplifting Andrew.
    Hugs

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  3. I’m afraid it’s the way I do it too, and every time I pause to lament my total lack of organization and method I remind myself that writing is meant to be fun: otherwise, why do it? It certainly isn’t for the money…

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  4. Jay says:

    A writer needs room to breathe. I hope you are breathing well.

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  5. nimi naren says:

    Lovely post Andrew

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  6. Mirja says:

    Lessons are learnt every day. In the future you need to make the invitations meet your needs.:)
    As to the writing like with much else I agree with deep breathing , otherwise I go with Jaqui Murray;
    go with the inspiration, drop everything and write whilst it lasts.

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  7. I agree. It depends so much on my mood, which I can’t predict (some would call that my muse, but s/he’s something entirely different). When I get inspired, I must stop whatever else I was working on and write or I’ll loose that free flow of words. Usually, that’s putting aside a different writing project for this new one.

    But that’s what must happen.

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    • Which is why I rarely try to write a schedule for my blog. I never know what will really come out of my Sunday writing session. I spent a good part of the week thinking about all the topics I mentioned last week, but when I sat down to write all that came out was this discussion of process. Some times it’s frustrating. Some times rewarding. But it’s the nature of my life as a writer.

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  8. artseafartsea says:

    I like your process, especially the breathing in and gathering creative energy. I am starting to write down my dreams and see what comes of that.

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  9. Carrie Rubin says:

    Just goes to show not all of our writing is done at the keyboard. Much of it comes beforehand in a series of thoughts and mental organizing, just as you have outlined. And this away-from-the-keyboard work continues throughout the whole process.

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