The Third Thing

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“Writers don’t know that much except how to write.  We must find the third thing.  And we cannot afford to be fussy.”  
Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend from Far Away

I hear a lot of writers talk about writer’s block.  I’m still a bit on the fence about whether or not it actually exists, but I think a better term for it might be “writer’s disinterest.”

There are always things to write about.  The problem, as I see it, is that we, as writers, are not always interested in what comes to mind.  It doesn’t seem exciting or noteworthy and so we pass it by and spend countless frustrated hours in digging for something important to write about, something our minds can glom onto.  I’m as guilty as the next writer about this.  I have spent time almost literally beating my head against a wall trying to “make” something come.

There’s a wonderful quote from Isaac Asimov.  I don’t have it in front of me, so I’ll have to paraphrase, but essentially he says that it’s silly to pound against a closed door when, in another direction, a different door is wide open.  We (and I’m not talking just writers) need to realize when we must turn around and seek that open door.  It may only be ajar, but it’s better than bloodying yourself against something that’s locked tight against you.

So, third things.  Anything can be a third thing, we just need to be willing to open ourselves to letting it be, to allowing the inspiration to flow.  And it’s amazing what can come of something as innocuous as, say, a button, a pile of cold ash in a fireplace grate, an errant ray of sunshine.  Find these things and give them a chance to tell you their story.  You might be surprised by what you discover.

About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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