When I was a teenager, I lived near a small lake. Remember when I told you about seeing a UFO? Yeah, that lake.
Well, I owned a canoe during that time, a big blue one. Had a lot of fun, paddling around, exploring, fishing, sometimes alone and often with friends.
Early one morning (like pre-dawn early) I went down to the lake and took my canoe out all by mself.
This particular morning was quite foggy. You could see 10, maybe 15 feet out, then nothing but solid gray fog in every direction.
I started at the beach, and tried to make it to the far side of the lake with no visual cues to guide me. It was tough. Its hard enough paddling a canoe in a straight when you can see, let alone when you can’t. I kept turning without realizing, and then some part of the shore would appear. I’d have to figure out where I was, go back to the beach, and try again.
I could not determine where I would end up. Even though I was familiar with the lake, I had no sense of direction or distance until I could see some part of the shore and figure out where I ended up.
It’s kinda like what is going on in my head right now.
I’ve been writing this story. I started it a few days ago, but it feels like much longer. At the time, I had just the bare bones of an idea. I thought it might be a quick short story that I could post here or something.
But I couldn’t see the whole thing when I started. As I was writing, I was progressing deeper and deeper into the fog. Meeting people for the first time, visiting places I’ve never been before.
I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve been using my phone, which seems ridiculous to me even now. I write in the morning. I write on my lunch. I write in the evening. Writing while getting dinner ready. I’ve been writing when I should be sleeping. I write when I’m in the bathroom. If I’m watching a show with my wife, and she pauses it to go get a snack, I’m picking up my phone and writing a few words till she comes back.
And as I’m writing, the world, the people, and the story that I am writing is revealed to me. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know who these people will reveal themselves to be, until they do.
I think to myself “What happens next?” And I write that. Wash, rinse, repeat. That’s it.
The fog is pushed back a few feet, I take a few steps forward. Push the fog a few more feet, and take few more steps.
If I feel like I’m slowing down, or getting bogged down, or start wondering about the long term plot, or thinking that my writing is terrible, I stop worrying, and just ask myself “What happens next?” And then I write it down.
This time however, I’m not canoeing in a small, familiar lake. I don’t know the size or shape of what is being revealed to me. I don’t know how long it will take. But I do know I’m not stopping now.
On that note…