Stacking Wood

I and my family observe a special holiday each fall: Wood Stacking Day. I admit it’s a bit eccentric, but this is New England, so we’re allowed.

We celebrate it by spending pretty much all day lugging logs from our driveway to stack on the porch, or down cellar once the porch is full. Like most celebrations, this tends to cause a hangover. In this case it’s sore muscles, rather than an aching head.

Hauling logs from one place to another gives me a lot of time to think. Naturally, it occurred to me that this activity amounts to a metaphor for writing.

You start with a disorganized pile of logs. These represent all your story ideas. At first the task seems overwhelming, but you select some logs, a few at a time, the ones that seem like they’ll fit together. Gradually a structure begins to reveal itself–first an outline, then, if you’re lucky, an actual plot emerges.

You build up the layers of wood higher and higher, complication on complication. At last you place the last few logs and you’re done. The resolution has been reached and now you’ll begin to go through the stack, building fires to keep yourself warm on the cold nights that are coming. Since the wood burns faster than it grows, I’m going to say this is analogous to reading the finished story–years of work consumed in a few days or weeks.

What’s left? A smaller pile of chips too small for kindling, loose pieces of bark, and dirt. We use this as mulch for our hedge. I guess it would correspond to unused ideas, or bits of them, things that didn’t quite work out. So you recycle them, returning them to your subconscious to help nurture your stories yet unborn.

Happy Wood Stacking Day, all!

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