Saturday, January 23, 2010

Finding the Method

By Keith Fisher

Where I live, we got a bunch of snow overnight. I went out to shovel my walks and driveway this morning. Around here, snow holds many blessings, Not the least of which, is service.

While shoveling, I noticed how I performed my task, nipping away at it a bit at a time. I took a standing break and glanced at my neighbors. That’s when I realized we all have different styles of snow removal.

I never thought about my method before, but it seems I divide the area into geometric quadrants and sub quadrants. I do the same when I mow the lawn. I remember working on the shape of Nevada on my parent’s lawn. At another house I worked on making Utah, but I was talking about shoveling snow.

My method starts with a long path down the middle of the driveway then I come back up one side turn around and go back down the other side. In the interim, I shovel the curving walk that leads up to the door. I take circular bites out of it, removing most of the snow on the first pass and finish up, by getting the bits left on the other edge. My theory is to push all the snow off the concrete, all the way to the lawn. This prevents water puddles that freeze into black ice, causing accidents.

One of my neighbors starts at one end of the drive and shovels in a horizontal fashion. Throwing snow in no particular spot. He is done, when he gets to the other end. Another, has a snow blower, and uses it about the same way as I use my shovel. I have another friend who puts a blade on his ATV and loves to plow through the ward, clearing sidewalks.

I noticed a little kid trying to help his dad. He took shovels full, and tossed them back on the driveway. At least it wasn’t on the already cleared parts, but he worked against himself, moving the snow twice, sometimes more.

The point of all this, if there must be one, is just like we all have a different way of removing snow, we can develop our own method of writing. We don’t need to write like others. As I said last week, there are certain styles to follow, but you can say things, your way.

I’ve found my writing is like shoveling. Occasionally, I write a great sentence and I have a profound thought or two, but like when snow comes out of the side of shovel or I miss a spot, I have to go back and do it again.

Also, in my haste, I sometimes shovel before the end of the storm. Then it snows a bit more, warms up, then freezes. My efforts were not fruitless, but they caused more work as I removed the ice. In my writing, I sometimes rush headlong into telling a story. I know it’s great. (How could it not be?) Then I suffer embarrassment when my critique group points out plot holes or bad writing. I have to go back and redo it, agonizing over how to fix it.

Sometimes I create work by writing scenes and descriptions that aren’t pertinent to the story. In this, I am like the little kid who throws the snow in front of himself. I have to shovel those sentences again.

The simile for the motorized snow removal is simple. My computer has made writing so much easier. Like the snow blower saves time, I can write whole books quicker, but even with mechanization, there are spots on a sidewalk that just can’t be reached without a shovel. Still though, promoting myself as a writer is made so much easier using a computer on the Internet.

There is a good point in favor of writing over shoveling, however. Unless you count sedentary time, at least my writing won’t give me a heart attack.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


L.T. Elliot said...

This has been on my mind a lot. I've worried if my "method" of writing needs to be more like my "neighbors." Sometimes I worry about a patch of snow and give myself twice as much work. Thanks for helping me see the broad perspective. In the end, as long as I keep working at it, I'll have a clear driveway.

Jane Isfeld Still said...

Hey goo job. It's like I am promoting my book. How it feels comfortable and fun. :)

Kimberly Job said...

All that shoveling made me tired. Being unique is always a good thing.

C. K. Bryant said...

Great post Keith. I love how you compared it to shoveling snow, except I hate shoveling and love writing. Oh well. I'm quoting you on my blog tomorrow. Come check it out.