Thoughts Are Turkeys

December 21, 2008

It’s snowing. I look out the window and see nothing but a white blankness, the indistinct motion of flurries, and the stark, hazy outlines of branches and thickets.

It reminds me of something, but what? Hazy outlines … indistinct motion … white blankness.

Oh, right: my mind.

At the moment, I’m somewhere in the middle of seven different book projects. The routine goes like this: I pick one up and work on it for several days, long enough to sink into it and make some progress — and then put it down and take up another. Not an ideal way to work, but given circumstance and timetables, necessary.

It also means that at least every few days, I feel like I’m starting from scratch, which always entails turning inward, looking inside my mind to hunt for ideas — and encountering a landscape that looks a good deal like that winter-bleak blankness out there.

“When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.” — Vicky Karp

I can’t see them, but I know there are thoughts in here.

It’s like the wild turkeys.

Looking outside, I can’t imagine anything surviving that New England winter. Every year, I’m convinced that the wild turkeys who live out there in the meadows behind our home must have frozen to death. And yet every year, they show up.

The photo above is proof, from last August. I can see those turkeys. I know they’re out there, somewhere.

I can feel those thoughts. I know they’re in there, somewhere.

When I sit down to write, I’m often convinced that my mind has gone terminally blank, and that all original or useful thoughts have either been sufficiently mined, or gone extinct. But I remind myself: the turkeys.

Napoleon Hill said, “Thoughts are things.” Fine, what what kind of things?

I am hoping they are persistently surviving wildfowl.

1 Comment

  1. Bob

    Napoleon Hill said, “Thoughts are things.” I think they are persistently surviving wildfowl.
    An excellent way to put it. And your thought about how you’re sure the turkeys can’t survive, yet they reappear every spring, definitely gives me hope.

    I’ve been struggling with writer’s block lately and have had to use every trick I know (and, when I say, “every trick I know,” I mean “one trick”) to keep slogging through.

    I think I’ll now reframe and go with the surviving turkey idea, realizing that – yes – my thoughts will come back to me and blogs/articles will again be filled with type.

    Thank you, Lev . . . er, I mean, John.



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