The Fire

Fire3“Fire your creativity” or “fire your imagination” or any other use of “fire” always strikes me as deliciously ironic in its accuracy. My muse has always been as far for me. Fire breathes, eats, procreates, thinks, kills, fights for survival; in so many ways, it seems to be alive. It’s a classical element for a reason, after all. However, I am also very much a creature of fire, so I find it equally the “source” of the brilliance of writing and the destruction of it. Fire is the best metaphor I have to writing.

In the “camp site” of our lives, the nights get dark and lonely, and our ancient, primal souls yearn for fire. We begin to build the fire with a solid and safe foundation. This is much like deciding the world of the story, and how secure you make that world, the more detail you put into it, the better chance that things will not go wrong. Choosing the right kindling is as if choosing the character structure to be used in the story; important if you want a quick start or a slow one. Lighting the fire is as beginning to write, and putting logs on the fire to build it up once the fire starts to burn is like the addition of plot.

Sometimes, the fire goes out and you need to begin again. This is where writing can be building and trying to maintain a camp fire in the rain. There are times when this is easier said then done and a constant struggle, and others where it is almost miraculously easy. Other times, the fire burns straight out of your control and you need to dampen it. There are times you can regain the control and others you can’t and are forced to watch it catch to all that surrounds you. Like the controlled fires used to help clear dead brush, this can be beneficial to the creative process. However, when things go bad, you can find yourself with more story than you can put down in a lifetime, leaving the work always feeling undone and unsatisfactory.

Now, there are some that make this whole process look easy. With nothing more than some sticks and a rock they could make a fire that burns cheerfully through anything. I envy those people. I, however, always end up with the forest fire threatening to consume me. However, I’ve learned, over time, to dance in the flames. When in the midst of a forest fire with no escape, what else can you do but dance?

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