Water, Water Everywhere

Summer appears to be officially over here in Seattle, as we are now soaked to our shudders with the first unremitting rain shower of the new season. No matter. Erica Bauermeister felt it was easier to write during Seattle’s long, damp winters, and I rather agree. Not everyone does, of course, but there is something about water in general that seems to lend itself to creativity.

The ocean is always nice—I find myself composing in my head as soon as I get my toes into the surf. But the problem with the ocean is that the only thing I think to write about when I’m near the ocean is the ocean. I feel compelled to capture it completely once and for all. I haven’t yet, but I will be sure to let you know if I do.

Rivers are more generous partners. Wally Lamb visits a river near his home whenever he’s stuck. He says after a certain amount of time on the riverbank the story begins to flow again. This makes perfect sense to me. There is something about the repetitive and endless sound of a current that hypnotizes you back into your story.

But I have to say no source of water has ever been more helpful to my writing than a shower. I’m sure I am not alone when I say that I have gotten more work done after rinsing the shampoo out of my hair than in all my trips to any other body of water combined. It must be the banal nature of the shower that helps me so. There is a momentousness when one approaches a river or an ocean, a sense that Now Is The Time.  A shower is a humble servant.

And there is always that moment, after all the business is done, and I am standing and listening to the water hit the back of my neck that I will find the missing piece to some puzzle in my story. I’m never expecting it; I’m not even aware that I’m asking for it. I seem, in fact, to be doing nothing at all. But doing nothing at all is my most creative activity. In the cocoon of nothingness much can grow without all the noise of judgment and the bright lights of public opinion. Here you reach your natural state – you with you listening to you. That is the true wellspring; the true river from which all creation flows.

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