For two days I’ve been struggling with a new post. It reminds me of the huge, fat earthworms that surface in our yard after a serious rainstorm. Those worms lie there ever so enticingly, but if I reach to pick one up (okay, I hear those twitters of revulsion: “Oh ugh! How utterly gross! I don’t even want to read this!” Hang in there — I’m almost done) it wriggles convulsively, throwing itself end-for-end across the rocks to get out of my reach. If, just for the heck of it and memories of childhood fishing days, I do manage to pick one up and plop it in the palm of my hand, it continues to thrash around with amazing strength, seeking to return to its loamy lair.
The essay I’m working on has the same slippery tenacity of those worms. I clearly see the concept, but as I reach for it, it skitters out of reach. I write a few words or paragraphs, but they slide out of grasp. It won’t hold still for the hook.
Fortunately, I have no true deadline for this piece. There is only one thing to do with such wriggly material: let it burrow back into the sanctuary of soil to continue developing. When the time is right, it will reemerge, ready to serve its ultimate purpose of attracting fish t0 feed a multitude.
Not surprisingly, the story I’m working on is about the emergence of light from darkness. It’s about finding gifts in the shadows of life and how to share them in helpful, meaningful ways, so the metaphor of the subterranean worm is apt.
I shall return to the topic, when it’s “ripe.” In the interim, I’ll continue to write, about other things, and other approaches to this elusive piece. Sometimes tough topics are like untying a knot. You nudge a little here, a little there, never forcing. It may take the patience of Job, but sooner or later, you touch just the right spot and it all falls open. Stories can be like that. Nudge, poke, let it rest, nudge again. And one day you find this amazing story staring back at you.
Meanwhile, I do have a little light for you today, of a less esoteric sort, and it should give you a good chuckle. Click over to the August 19 edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review to read my story of being Too Old for Ice Cream.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal