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Monday, October 29, 2012

Very Unfaithful

On my recent trip through the United States, one of the last stops was Yellowstone National Park. By then I had seen Yosemite, The Grand Canyon and all sorts of other great landmarks and sites. But Yellowstone was different. It has so much to offer that many of the other places simply didn't have. It is a one of a kind place. Of course, the main attraction at Yellowstone is Old Faithful.

Old Faithful is named as such because it is very reliable. It erupts just about every 90 minutes, give or take. Many of the other much more powerful volcanoes that are there only erupt every 50 years,  or 50,000 years, or even longer. They pack much more punch, but in our lifetime they are unlikely to erupt. The chances of it happening on your visit are not even something you can calculate. You are much more likely to win the lottery while being struck by lightening at the same time.
It had been a long trip by the time we arrived at Yellowstone and part of the purpose of the trip was to get my writing head together. While I had gotten some great new ideas and made some progress on the existing ones, it had not gone as well as I had hoped. 

 By the time I got to Yellowstone, I had to ask myself, why?
It is now 3 weeks later, and I have gotten some clarity there. Not that it helps me do better, just that I think I understand it now. Hopefully, understanding is the first step to getting better. They say it is. Only time will tell.
While we we
re in the waiting area biding our time until Old Faithful was due to erupt, we walked around the exhibits they have to explain the history of Yellowstone and why the certain attractions react as they do. With many of them, still much is not known for certain. With Old Faithful, it seems to be.
 Old Faithful is a simple mini volcano. Pressure builds up in the space underneath the ground, water fills that spot, and when the pressure gets too great and there isn't enough space to hold the water, it erupts out and relieves that pressure, only to start the process over and over again. It is that consistent.  Almost machine like.
Writing is sort of like that. Except for one thing. Yes, you feel that pressure build up as you get a new idea, or some inspiration to write. The problem is, once you release that pressure, it doesn't always instantly refill, like Old Faithful does. Once you release it from yourself, you can have that empty,  dry, aimless feeling which fills in its place. The key is to find a way to always refill the pressure.
he writing bug is actually, in many cases, the direct opposite of Old Faithful. It is very unfaithful. It gives you a great gift, great hope, a great rush, then it just dries up and dies off. You have no idea when it will or might come back.
 I think I have learned that I have to pay attention to what gets me to the pressure point and causes the eruption, so that the next time, and time after that I can fill that water up myself and constantly create the pressure that produces the kind of writing I want to do,  that I know I can do.
In the heat of the moment, that isn't always easy, because you are so focused on the writing that you ignore the stimulus that got you started. But, on reflection, you must. At least for me,  I must.
At the very least, I have to make a quick notation as to what got me to the point that caused the eruption so I can make it happen if it doesn't happen naturally, which it doesn't. Not enough.

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