The Cabin in the Woods of the Mind
Lately, I’ve heard quite a bit of critique on the writer’s discipline swirling around inspiration and the creative space. They say there is a lie clinging to commonplace perception–that if you were to go on a retreat to a cabin in the woods with nothing but you, your mind, and a newly purchased leather-bound journal, the story will come to you. I realize this could be misleading. (*See also the new notebooks spontaneously purchase at B&N that will this time make me dedicated to writing as much as I should. Usually helps for a few days or, if I’m lucky, a few months.) What they’re saying is there’s no magic to the process, only dedication. On this point, I’ll concede.
However, lately I’ve been thinking about all the white noise that we’ve grown accustom to from our own inventions. Perhaps inspiration isn’t found in the woods, but silence can be. Or at least a different kind of silence. Water rushing by instead of cars, the crackle of fire instead of heat blowing through the vents, bird song instead of your neighbor’s stereo. Maybe it’s subjective. Maybe this is my idea of peace. Maybe I just miss the river where I grew up. Where I would have the deepest night’s sleep I’ve ever known because the only sounds deep in the mountains were crickets, rapids, and the dull rumble of a far-off train. There’s something to be said of the silence and simplicity of that place. My memory is not always strong enough to bring me back.
Now “the cabin” represents escapism from the real world. Not long ago it was where so many people lived their lives, and where many still do. We have made an idol of multi-tasking. I wish I could toss that graven image from the rocks beneath the tracks and watch it speed off with the current–subject to the will of the waves and the grace of river rocks.