Monday, December 3, 2012


Yes. You read the title right. Leaves filled my family's afternoon this past Sunday. After hours of constructing a replica of Mount Everest, my two sons and I were drawn like clowns to the circus as we dove headlong into the car sized pile. All the time, our photographer, my lovely wife, clicked away. The craziness, caught on camera, and no doubt posted on Facebook, would have any P.R. department cringe and book publishers in an uproar from the breech of decorum. Okay, I know I'm embellishing a tad. But, I'm a writer, I'm allowed to exaggerate.

Now, you might ask what does raking and frolicking in leaves have anything to do with writing. Well from a creative perspective, it has a lot to do with our craft. In talking to people at meetings or conferences, I'm always told one of the roadblocks that keeps them from writing is that they have nothing to write about. As a writer, I struggle with the notion. I always have too much to write about. As it is, I have to be diligent and guard against starting multiple projects. That is what notepads are for!

Anyway, back to my leaves. I realized that while they are similar, they were different. The more I thought about it, the more striking those differences were. Getting lost in my thoughts, my body went on autopilot. I saw each leaf as a microcosm of creative motivation. Even though I was piling all these leaves in one large indiscriminate pile, they all had their own individual stories that were screaming at me to be told. Now, am I suggesting a story from a leaf's point of view? Not necessarily. Although it would probably be a very interesting project.

What I'm suggesting is that something as simple as a leaf pile can spark a whole plot line. Indulge me for a few more seconds. Imagine a man who has been visited by tragedy more than once. Whose only joy and worthwhile moment each year was to rake leaves with his family. Watching his kids' drollery and letting their laughter sooth his battered soul gave him a sense of balance in life. Now, the catalyst. Something mysterious happens and he is left raking leaves each year alone. Once the source of indescribable happiness, the leaf pile has become a swirling abyss of haunting memories.

It doesn't have to be leaves. It could be just about anything! Once you realize everything has a story waiting to be told by an observant writer, a whole world of creative possibilities open up. There is always something to write about. Anything can be sculpted into a story. So try it!

Think of this post as a challenge. Find something, anything, and focus on it. Perhaps the pen in your hand or the keyboard on which you spend so much time. Try to envision its experiences. Where it came from or what it endured. Perhaps the factory worker who packaged the very item you are using as you read this has something that needs to be told.

It is our job as writers to be the voices of the unheard. So, sit down and grab a piece of paper or turn on your trusty computer and start doing the right thing. Tell their story. Be the one, perhaps the only one, who has listened and has decided to be the voice of the voiceless, begging to be heard.

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