“Imagine something you want to write about is a stone you’ve picked up on the beach. Roll the image, the idea, the thought, or the feeling around in your mind. The gestation period is an important part of writing. If you give your thoughts a chance to gather weight and depth, when you do finally sit down to write, the life of the work will have already begun.”
Georgia Heard, Writing Toward Home
Do you remember that lovely children’s story called Stone Soup? In the story, if I recall, someone puts a stone in a pot of water and starts to boil it. Somehow, everyone around is persuaded to add something to the soup — a few carrots, some mushrooms, some seasoning, and so on, and before you know it, the stone soup has turned into a deliciously savory meal — a pot of plenty big enough to feed everyone who helped to fill it.
The tale of this soup and how it came to be sprang to mind when I read Georgia Heard’s lovely quote about the gestation period when an idea or project is being born being an important part of writing. How true this is! That delectable, barely detectable period when something starts to bubble up inside is a lot like a stone soup — we need to let it simmer.
But so often, we are on the hunt for a new idea and so hungry for a new project that we grab onto a fragile glimmer of something too quickly. And when we do, it can quickly fade away until we find ourselves left with something stale, instead of something fresh.
We need to be patient when stirring the pot of inspiration — although this is easier said than done. So why not take Georgia’s advice and let an idea roll around in our minds — let it “gather weight and depth,” instead of rushing to grab it and get it down on paper?
The rewards of simmering our stone soup can be deliciously satisfying. We can gain a sense of whether or not the idea has “legs” — whether it’s really worth pursuing and developing. We can play with it and let it tease us into thinking about it more and lead us down fresh new avenues of our imagination. And we can allow it to excite and energize us, so that when we finally do set pen to paper or fingers to keys, we are jazzed and juiced by it. So let’s have stone soup for supper — and write on!