Surprise: A Writer’s Gift to the World
Yesterday during my morning’s walk, I noticed a ditch along the side of the road, filled with rainwater and clotted with leaves. Dead leaves in a ditch, I thought, but then my brain registered something else: a mighty fretwork of trees towering loftily above – or were they plunging down below? – into a sky where alabaster clouds drifted by, billowing underfoot, but no, that’s impossible, they must be drifting high above, but no, the clouds were heaped in roiling masses and submerged beneath vaulting treetops, the entire scene painted plein air in the fathomless depths of a shallow roadside gutter.
I traced and retraced my steps, lost in a baffling figure-ground conundrum. If I focused on the dead leaves, the reflection vanished and I could see the picture only in fragments: clouds above, if I craned my neck to look up; winter-gray tree trunks bristling in the woods, if I glanced to the side. But when I shifted my gaze to the reflection, a dizzying panorama revealed itself, whole and complete: a majesty of trees soaring into a vast expanse of blue sky on which white clouds foamed.
This, to me, is a metaphor for the growth of self a writer experiences through the act of writing. The individual self becomes aligned with the wholeness of the Greater or Higher Self. E. B. White puts it succinctly when he says:
All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation — it is the Self escaping into the open.
The moral of this story is: don’t over-analyze or over-plan your writing. Always leave space for revelation — for your Self to leap out and surprise both you and your readers.