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For those dry, cold winter mornings; dripping, foggy afternoons; evenings that provoke and taunt you with another wasted day, “Hah, you call yourself a writer—give it up, just go to bed and toss and turn a big ole useless hole into your mattress!”, I offer these small tips.

First off, forget the words! They aren’t coming, snotty little boogers, never will, and sit up straight and tall. Sneakily, grab hold of pen or e-device and shout—out loud, for real, is best—”I’m telling. Do you hear me? I’M TELLING!!!”

Remember how good telling used to feel?

“Bobby McEvoy farted in gym today.”

“Did you see Philly-Mae’s slip was showing—in church? It looked kind of yellow, had a rip in the lace . . .”

While words ungrateful may pack up and run away, we never lose the knack for telling, though some of us, we had our tongues-of-telling shamed and stapled to the front pew, damned to Sundays near perpetual of puritanic sermons from an adenoidal preacher who would never die ‘cause neither God nor Satan wanted him.

I used to dream of Mystic on those awful—really, they were aweless—Sundays in Connecticut, consoled by pastel images in Victorian parlours with bowls of butterscotch hard candy congealed to amber lump, that whalers harpooned blue backs gently and floated them to shore like Afghans, golden placid on a leash. It made for better fantasy than sulphur being hurled in flaming chunks at those of us who managed—God knows why!—to find a way, through all the wrath, to be born anyway.

So here’s the tip that hides the iceberg of an endless creativity:

Ignore the words when they refuse to lead, and pay attention to the images, the smells, the sounds, and capture them in nets. How tight or loose the weave is up to you. Are they of hemp these nets that make you want to smoke them, or of prickly cactus fibers, or of woven plastic packaging, recycled?

Of your ocean, what’s the temperature? South Pacific calm or crashing, north Atlantic blustering? Do you dive deep and naked, or would you rather surf through endless roaring corridors?

The mainsail is, the main thing, that you write your choices down—to tell, record, the biggest, fattest lies of truth sweet-soaring through your blood and bones until you’re fairly shouting with the effervescence that is telling you. The bubbles stirring up attract an audience, they do, they always will—

Oh, look, what’s this?

Who’s tiptoeing, all curious, forgetting to be coy—haha, I tricked you, koi!—to netted edge and bringing with them buckets of emotion, sleek and silvery like minnows, courting, pregnant, spilling out with eggs? Those tiny fish, they are your prodigals, lost words come home in infinite and succulent supply to feed the hungry images you care enough to write…

You care enough to write. You always have, you always will.

So there you go, dear mystic friend, enjoy the feast! I’ll see you in the ocean blue when next we sail, distressed and wailing, on a dripping, foggy afternoon.

© Elaine Stirling, 2012

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