Being world-weary and feeling all dried up I went looking for a reboot – for some inspiration. Yeats is good for that. He, to me, is among the writers’ poets and carries the spark of what the Celts term ‘awen’, the gift of the ‘breeze’ causing poetry to flow from their mouths. This ‘breeze’ or breath is given from the gods. So, Yeats is a good place to start when looking for that breeze – to have prose flow on to the paper.
He first tells me: ‘The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.’ I believe him and wait with the world for those magic things. Recently, my characters whispered that magic in my ears when my senses rang dull by doctors, bankers, and life’s grudging business. Sometimes, however, a good movie, a good book, or a dropped comment can do it. Oak trees, sunsets, and thunderstorms do it too.
Breathe in this universal breath and see the magic things. After that, we can do two things:
‘Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.’ And, make ‘the world to be a grassy road before her wandering feet.’
It sounds, of course, deceptively simple. Just seize the story fearlessly and make a world for our characters to tread. The characters, created real enough, should then tell their stories to us. We then dutifully data process the story (they used to say ‘transcribe’) onto paper or onto computer screen. There is a bit more work involved, I fear.
Yeats has one more point to consider as we work. It is probably the most salient point to me, and the hardest to practice:
‘Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.’
All the things we learned about language, sentence structure, and logical argument, and organization come into play here. Keep it simple. Don’t use a big word when a simple one will do. Use topic sentences. Don’t ramble. When you find something you wrote is grand – strike it out. If it doesn’t further the story – strike it out. And, my favorite, there is no such thing as writing there is only rewriting.
I take one final thought in my journey toward inspiration as I near my birthday of advanced years: ‘but one loses, as one grows older, something of the lightness of one’s dreams; one begins to take life up in both hands, and to care more for the fruit than the flower, and that is no great loss perhaps.’
Let us, as writers, look to the fruit and not always the flower of what we write.