Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 1, 2024

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A brief essay on writing

The Ineluctability of Words

by Aisha Robins

It was going to be a good day for writing â?" I could feel it. This was in spite of facing a 12-hour flight from San Antonio to Anchorage with a stop in Minneapolis.

The month before, I had begun working with an idea for a short story that was born from words I used to describe an image that popped into my head: "The high noon sun hit the silvered AMOCO sign a glancing blow and flattened the wide-open Texas landscape in all directions."

Ideas and writing are mutually ineluctable.

The characters showed up and introduced themselves and we hit it off right away. I groped (typed/edited) my way through learning their vocabulary, their humor, their perspectives and thought processes, and how they related to each other and their lives. I was eager to play. Ideas morphed, swelled, and shrank and I eagerly â?" enthusiastically â?" wrote options that might fit the through-line. Then I adjusted them for a tentative fit with my characters' personalities and goals, and generally amused myself. I might not use any of this! In fact, losing the fear of leaving words, sentences, and whole paragraphs "on the cutting room floor" has been a huge boost to staying in the flow.

Back at home, six days later, I can still feel the "hangover" of that writing spree. I was so "in the zone" when in the Minneapolis airport, I had to speed-walk to the gate area. By the time the plane landed in Anchorage, it had been a nine-hour write-a-thon, seven hours of which were at 35,000 feet. The flow of creative energy was energizing -- and exhausting. And indescribably delicious!
While in Anchorage, I heard about a man's 600-mile, three-month rafting trip on the Yukon River in northern Alaska: high winds, rain, bugs, isolation, more bugs, more rain (to hear tell, in the league of 40 days and 40 nights), and coming through the experience a changed person.

When I write in the zone, I am on that kind of river adventure. I watch for ideas hiding with bears and moose in deep woods along the bank. I listen for dialect and "tone" as if from warblers darting through treetops. I honor pauses in dialogue, allowing them to speak louder than words, as when a spear of sunlight silently pierces the canopy of old-growth trees, lighting a path between mounds of deadfall. Bugs and wind be damned. No isolation for me, with a story peopled with characters diverse and ever-changing.

And every time I take a deep breath and realize I have reached a temporary point of departure from my laptop, I know I am a writer: valiant, tested, newly improved, and well-travelled.

Writing writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a story or essay with the topic of "writing". Can be instructional or a character in the story can be a writer. Creative approaches welcomed.

Ah, being in the flow!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by VMarguarite at

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