Recently a news journalist remarked that this was a wonderful time to be a reader, with books, magazines, libraries, bookstores, I-Pads, the Internet and so on.
I beg to differ. I don’t think there is any better or more glorious time in the history of our world than to simply be a writer.
Let me give you an example. On the way into town one morning, I passed a work crew on our neighbor’s land replacing electric poles of the “walking giants.” They were silhouetted against the morning sun and I could just make out the men and women getting into their safety gear, ready to climb into the buckets of their “cherry pickers” in preparation for the assent to the top of the poles.
I got out of my car to snap a quick picture and took just a moment to contemplate the scene before me. For a writer, this pastoral scene was simple and straight forward. But with a flick of my imagination I could conjure up any number of plots and characters. There were so many choices open to me on both sides of the grid requiring no human contact at all. My story could lead in so many different directions and avenues. I could use any emotion or genre of my choice.
My 1890 Webster’s Dictionary defines choice in so many ways. “The act of choosing, the voluntary act of selecting or separating from two or more things. The thing chosen. The best part of anything. That which is preferable and properly the object of choice.”
Again, as a writer, this puts the dilemma right in front of me, making it almost impossible to tackle. Or it does for me.
For instance, I could write a drama regarding one of the men being so distracted with troubles at home, putting the lives of his fellow workers in danger. Or I could pen a romance of the electricians and engineers erecting poles with hard muscles, strong spirit, dedicated heart, and with faces that exuded masculinity or sexuality in their smile, through eyes etched with desire that could look deep into your soul.
Or maybe I could write about safety, including hard hats, or lifelines, or anchors to the ground such as those about safety first that fellow Wordsmith Six blogger Natalie Bright wrote in her book Oil People. What about tragedy and the loss of friends on the job, senseless acts, terrorism on a national scale, shutting down the power grids all across the country. I would have to do a lot of research, but it’s doable.
On the one hand I could write about the power conglomerates tearing up the land, killing the environment, gobbling up natural resources. Or maybe I could choose to focus my story on the hawk I witness every day on my way home from work that settles on top of one of the cross bars of the electric pole just high enough to survey his domain as he looks for a tasty meal from his lofty perch.
What about cattle ranches and farmers? Each pole the power company erected was across generations of neighbors’ land on both sides of the spectrum. I could write about the power companies taking Eminent Domain, growth hormones, Mad Cow disease, PETA, or vegetarians. Or I could write about Molly and Charles Goodnight and the Goodnight-Loving Trail, John Wayne, saving the environment, the beef industry, steaks sizzling on the grill for an outdoor cookout, hamburger sliders at a tailgate party for the Super Bowl.
And where would we be if there was no electricity or fuel to run the tractors, the cotton gins, and the grain elevators. Without this most basic commodity farmers would not be able to feed their neighbors, their families and their friends here in the community, but also throughout the world.
And then there is politics. I could choose any debate on the energy crisis, oil embargoes, foreign oil, offshore drilling. Or I could write about how thankful I am that Franklin Delano Roosevelt worked so hard for us to have rural electric power that runs our water well, the microwave, the washer and dryer, the lights, the heat, the air-conditioner, the refrigerator that keeps all food and produce at the peak of freshness, and of course, last but not least, our T.V.
But I am also intent on sharing the story that electricity levels the playing field for all businesses, corporations, and CEO’s, that reach from the tallest sky scrapers down to the littlest mom and pop shops alike.
The sky remains the limit for me or any writer worth their salt. I could undertake a screenplay, a stage play, a murder mystery, non-fiction, horror, science fiction/fantasy, westerns, children’s book, or even a song lyric. “I am a lineman for the county,” as Glen Campbell would sing. And if my little heart desires I could find a place for vampires, werewolves, blood sucking aliens, or energy guzzling robots. And how easy it would be to connect and pay tribute to all that protect and serve against all forms of those who spew evil in every walk of life.
So many choices, so many avenues, limitless possibilities.
After staying to watch the men work to link the cables that stretched from one end of the earth to another I knew I had to get to town. I took one last glance and climbed back into my car. My heart was heavy with the magnitude of decisions I would have to make. Once I left this place I feared the memories would dim. But as I turned my eye I caught the reflection of the breaking sun. The brilliance burst across the horizon through the clouds. I knew I had my answer. I could choose to write about the worst of society, the ills of mankind, the stupidness of humanity at large, or I could go with my first impression.
What I first witnessed in my heart and soul when I saw the framework of trucks embracing the giants was the Holy Trinity…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and encircled within was the symbol of the cross. I could see the light of the Spirit rising above the scene with all of His majesty. I pictured the fields and the pastures and all the creatures below enveloped in the warmth of His gentle embrace all across the land.
And that leaves me with MY definition of “choice” from Webster’s Dictionary, “Holding dear, selecting with care. Worthy of being preferred, select, precious, very valuable.
And I knew at that precise moment what I would write.
No question, this is truly a glorious time to be a writer!