Where the idea began isn’t something I can say. Probably because it didn’t start with me. It emerged, gestalt-like, the way I envision imagination does--a universal well fed from a deep source from which we all drink. Somewhen, I emailed my friend Mike about my awakening from a coma of mourning and the way it inspired me to write. He sent me verse from Padraic Pearse:
O wise men, riddle me this: what if the dream come true? What if the dream come true, and if millions unborn shall dwell In the house that I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought?
Mike followed with, “You read something like that, written by a man who was about to die, and you think--that's what writing SHOULD be. Building a house of ideas for other people to live in. That's what you should aspire to.”
I’ve got it. I’m gone.
Days later, in New York, I sat with some new writer friends for first time and knew I’d found kin. We chatted, lauded, ridiculed, delved into and still couldn’t define what makes this writing thing work. Drool-inducing (it’s so damn good) prose versus ‘Did your book fart?’ (it smells so bad) doggerel; both sides arguable for a wide range of work. What sold, what didn’t, the unimaginative, the mindblowing… No logic applied except for purity or its lack.
I’ve got it. I’m headed home.
A week later, I met Deanna for lunch. The poet in her ran the last leg of this relay, handing off metaphor in place of a baton. We spoke about natural versus processed in the context of Himalayan salt and table salt, artesian water and tap.
I get it now.
Salt and water. The basics. Our filtering and distilling turn these two key components of life into alien matter our bodies want nothing to do with. Artesian water springs from the earth filled with microscopic animal, plant, and mineral matter. Sounds dirty, yes, but dirt is where things grow. Salt from ancient mines has a chemical structure similar to that of the salt in our bodies. Unlike the near-artifice of table salt or pharmaceutical-laced tap water, the original versions are what they’re meant to be.
Art must be the same. The original outpouring might need to be broken down or cleaned up, edited and revised, but it’s the good shit! It’s where the purity of our work and writing craft converge. Once it’s overworked, whatever was visceral drains away--table salt and tap water are bullshit--and the body, the audience, knows it.
I’m asking myself, and because we’re both drawing from the universal well, I’m asking you. Are we artesian or tap?
You’ve got this. Go on.
Thanks to Mike Carey, Le. R, Neesha Meminger, and Deanna Nikaido for handing off the baton and keeping this writing thing moving.
You can get to know Sherin Nicole via this video. Her alter ego, Shirin Dubbin, writes urban fantasy with a romantic edge. Shirin’s romping retelling of Goldilocks, Chaos Tryst, will release in October from Carina Press.