Humans love gold. We love it because it is rare and valuable. We love it because it never really loses its shine.
Gold is malleable enough that we can make beautiful things out of it. Simple things like a leaf become precious when hammered out of gold.
Writers perform their own alchemy by hammering beautiful ideas out of simple words. Editors carefully buff those words to provide that eternal, golden glow.
It’s no mistake that many trees’ leaves turn gold at this time of year. After a long summer of work doing what trees do, they leave us with their beautiful best as they prepare for their long, winter slumber. Like arboreal goldsmiths, they give us something spectacular from the mundane.
Creating beauty from the simple things around us is hard work. Wordsmiths take an ingot of ideas and start pounding them into some sort of shape. Again and again they go over their creation to find just the right words, just the right rhythm.
It’s not just the great poets or great novelists who do this. The everyday writer – those who write blogs, training manuals, news stories, and business letters among them – who strives to craft the best writing product possible from the work-a-day, leaden words that surround them is truly the writing alchemist.
Readers see the untarnished value in their words -- those golden, priceless words.
Curtis trotted into the house, dropped his backpack at the back door, and charged into the kitchen. He was starving after a busy but productive day at school.
On the counter, sitting in the middle of a plate, was a big chocolate chip cookie, his favorite. Next to it was a note: “Went to the store. Be right back. Mom.”
Curtis smiled. The crease along the middle of the cookie meant it was homemade.
“Yum!” he thought as he reached for his treat.
When his fingers were an inch from his cookie, an eye opened up in the middle of it! Curtis froze in disbelief. The green, watery eye in the cookie considered Curtis calmly. Then it blinked.
Almost on its own, Curtis’s body turned and flew to the door. He tripped over his backpack, picked himself up, and ran screaming into the street.
The best horror stories are the ones that take something totally innocuous and turn it into something surreal.
Most people, whether they want to admit it or not, like things to be “normal.” They don’t like things challenging their expectations – except when they want to be entertained.
As we head toward Halloween, we expect the unusual, even crave it. We seek out the abnormal – in carefully controlled and choreographed circumstances, of course.
Writers often think outside the norm. They look at things and can see the unexpected or unusual. They put these different perspectives before the public and help change the way people look at life. Sometimes it’s temporary, but the best writers will show us a different side of things that stays with us, sometimes haunts us.
Writers should pat themselves on the back. The world needs their differentness; it keeps us honest.
Just think of that the next time you reach for a chocolate chip cookie!