Diamonds in the rough


I’m from the Northwest Territories, the diamond capital of Canada. I don’t have a lot of diamonds, and, at this stage of the game, don’t really desire any. I do, however, know that writing, laying down that first awkward draft, is much like mining, bringing up to the surface the unlovely bits that, with spit and polish, revision, are gems.

I speak a lot about the reptilian brain, the subconscious that dictates the words, memories and ideas we chose when facing the blank page. We decide unknowingly and sometimes in the spur of the moment what to write and we learn about why we chose that particular word/image/idea in the act of revision.

I tell my students and clients there are gemstones in their writing and I don’t say this lightly. It’s work to get something on the page but you can’t fall in love with the unfinished rock, the chunk of text that surrounds the yet-to-be revealed diamond. The shale, the granite, the grey powder must be chipped away, the stone manipulated, tumbled, refined and then polished and polished again. It’s there. You have chosen to write about something for a certain reason and it may be a reason that is unclear to you. Trust the process. Mine your image, find the beauty beneath what first appears and  keep working it. As in all things, the light, the meaning, the reason for the writing will appear and dear writing friends, in has the potential to be very, very bright.

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