photograph: "heart of stone" by the author
If words were stones, and poems were homes, I'd have a shining city of dwellings to house all my needs and fulfillments. My satisfactions and foibles would be relived in the comfort and reverie of any number of structures that fit my particular mood at the time. I could invite others in to sit and share my thoughts in a lyrical and meaningful environment. Some would decline, as poems don't speak to everyone and entering another's home requires commitment and a vulnerability of sorts. But many have visited the homes of my city, sat gladly, and have encouraged me to build more for which they would not only be eager to see, but perhaps even accept as a model of inspiration for their own. From this city, the horizon would gaze back unflinchingly, an honest and stable sentinel, changing only its color with the weather and seasons of perspective. Here I would live in comfort. With stones.
If words were stones, and stories were roads, I'd be lost to create my own. Like a child inexperienced with the task of constructing a tonnage of rock into a coherent path of direction, I'd be tongue-tied and paralyzed, resorting to a cliché of arrangements in order to end what seemed a tedious task. I know. I've tried. Building in-roads to my city appeared necessary at some point, for how else would I reach new visitors, lovers of words and stones? But other's roads are all around me. I've traveled a few. Some are exquisitely detailed, finely crafted and unarguably beautiful. Some so universally poignant in their simplicity. And some pass by my city on chance. But like abstract art that looks deceptively easy to accomplish, they are not. From the road, the horizon shifts. The roads takes dips and climbs to apex. It curves and turns and doubles back. And the road, by definition, urges us on. Yes, I am aware that the road holds value beyond what can be achieved from home. It invites and receives more visitors that one's home(s). It is more popular, it seems. Stories are created as an aside to the endeavor to create stories. So many details. So many locales. Here, I'd feel inadequate, unable to visualize my own road. With Stones.
If words were stones and this essay was a field, perhaps I'd create an expanse around my city to describe the details of my predicament. I'd till the earth and reveal more stones to use myself or share with those who build the roads.
So, what does it take to tell a good story? I am very comfortable with poetry, essay, and academic/research writing but feel completely inadequate to tell a good story. Even when done verbally, I just don't seem to attract listeners. Why?