Plans, Plunges, or Presence

There’s something Biblical, brimming with confidence and vigor, to divide things: light from dark, water from land, rams from ewes. Writings about writing tend to do something similar: divide the plan-before-you writers from the plunge-into writers. But to strain metaphors more than Chobani strains yogurt, I say we have a situation less of rams and ewes and more lambs and ewes. (Besides, I haven’t photographed any rams lately, only this cute pair.)

sheep for sheli_small

Lambs can become ewes, and ewes can become lambs.

I don’t mean writers change how they do things, though I suspect most writers both plan and plunge as well as change over time. (I keep picturing in my head Faulkner’s novel A Fable outlined on the walls of his study.) The key is being present in the story to recognize and take advantage of the opportunities it offers, however they arose. When characters collide, for instance, whether by plan or by chance, you must pause to recognize the emergent options or discard the original ones to embrace something better. The process is sort of like hiking with a crude map. You pick a route and a day to maximize beautiful vistas, even if you have no idea if such vistas will actually materialize, or it’s like myself and a camera, stalking this barnyard with some sense that an image would eventually emerge. If vistas do materialize, you don’t rush by. You linger and enjoy everything about them and use them to pick the next direction most likely to keep expanding your vision into something far purer and felicitous than you would have assumed possible–in this case, a scared lamb looking for its ewe.