Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Seeing the Light

by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson

Every possible morning I go out to the hot tub for what I call my attitude adjustment hour. Actually, it's a time of exercise designed to keep my problem back working and reasonably flexible. As I loathe exercising in or out of water I never dreamed it would become one of the most pleasant times of my day.

About two or three houses to the East of mine is an absolutely enormous tree - some kind of oak, I think. Like most trees it has thin spots and holes in its leafy body. Some days - depending on clouds, haze, perhaps even how the breeze rearranges the leaves - the rising sun will shine through those holes and thin spots, turning them to glowing embers of the most brilliant gold. It is incredibly beautiful and so inspiring. For a precious few minutes - sometimes less than a minute - I am treated to one of the most gorgeous displays nature can provide. Then the sun shifts and what was a look 'beneath the skin of a glowing orb' turns into a very prosaic tree - still beautiful, but nothing except a tree after all.

So what does this have to do with writing? Nothing much, unless you take into account a writer's attitude toward her work. Most days we plod along, putting one word after another - sometimes well, sometimes just because we have to keep going and hope what we put down can be remade into something worthwhile - but then suddenly, like the sun turning the voids of a tree into brilliant and glowing gold, something transcendent happens and for a few incredible moments we can see everything about our story. We have a glimpse of the wonderfulness our story can become. We know where we're going and why, and sometimes even how. We have seen the light. Literally.

Not that writing is a magical process. It's hard work. You sit at a computer for hours, creating worlds and populations from nothing but imagination and caffeine, taking pure ideas and transforming them into words that hopefully will share what you see and feel with readers. Sometimes magic comes from books, but there's nothing magical about making them. Still, those magical moments of transcendent insight are worth working and waiting for, with or without a rising sun and a convenient tree.


Linda Kane said...

Inspiring and so true on many levels. I also enjoyed your last article.

Maris said...

Nicely said, Janis. You are so right: those moments are precious. I love it when it happens.

Earl Staggs said...

Susan, on days when I have trouble finding the right words and getting them in the right order, can I come and visit you and your tree?

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Transcendence does comes from hard work.

Linda Thorne said...

This was more than a post. I felt relaxed while reading it and sort of awed by nature. I saw my interruption of what you saw when you looked at the tree a few houses down from yours. In my picture, there were no fences, but rolling green lawns, smaller trees, and colorful houses. I felt like I was you for a moment watching the tree and its transformation. I felt like I was there. Good writing.

Carole Price said...

Beautifully said, Janis.