The Catalyst

Sugar cubeClean water in a clean container won’t freeze, even at temperatures well below freezing. Even though the water is cold enough and ready to freeze, water needs something to rally around before crystalizing into ice. A piece of dust, a leaf, or a lost eyelash can seed the process. The water will start arranging itself into a solid around that catalyst.

That’s often how writing works for me – the water’s cold enough to solidify but just needs a starter to get the process going. In my mind, what I want to write might be close to ready to be put down on paper, but the writing starts after looking at an outside idea as a catalyst, usually something I’ve heard or read.

For years I’ve been collecting stuff I hear or read. I usually pull out something from that collection and it’ll act like the starter, helping the story in my mind start solidifying onto the page.

Along with explaining my writing process, I want to acknowledge the help, usually uncredited, I get from others. When I save stuff, I’ll put it into my words sometimes, or update the style, or remove bits and pieces I don’t relate to. It gets changed from the original form. And I mostly don’t  write down where I ran across an idea or who expressed an idea I was stuck by enough to jot down, because if it rings true to me, it doesn’t need to be validated by a well known person. So much of the starting seeds are hard to recognize or give credit to, but I’m very grateful for these pointers and starters I often use.