The Alchemist and the Writer

Sometimes I feel like the alchemist of old in search of the answers of turning metal into gold. Sitting alone in my darkened room, pouring over tomes of knowledge in search of that one gem of wisdom that will aid me in my quest before the last of my money disappears and the landowner kicks me out of the boarding house as a charlatan or witch. Standing before my table and throwing ingredients into a bowl, a handful of this, a pinch of that, stir it up and then watch it turn into a useless lump of metal or a shiny piece of gold. Fearing the pitchforks and torches of my neighbors, or tortures of the Inquisition, as I dabble in work considered heresy.

Only I’m not alchemist, but an author in search of a stunning story that will make the hearts of my audience swell with pride, with anger, with fear, or with love. I’m sitting alone at my desk, pouring over articles or books in search of that one gem of wisdom that aid me in my impossible quest. I don’t have to fear the landowner kicking me out of my house, but I do wish my husband could one day quit his job and we can live off the money I make from writing (I told you it was an impossible dream…or is it?). My art isn’t science of chemicals or metal, but the canvas of the blank page and words.

Writing is a science all its own. Think about it. A handful of characters, a pinch or two of conflict, throw them into a setting, and stir it up. Then sit back and daydream about the troubles that your characters can get into. What emerges from your imagination can be a shiny, new landscape of color and character, or failure in the making. Where’s the science in that? It’s in the creation. It’s in that moment when you put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and present the world you created your head to the world you live in.

There’s this idea that all an author has to do is write words onto the page and publish it. But writing is so much more. There has to be a balance, a flow, a cohesive whole. Events have to be cause and effect. Characters have to be believable even if they come from the realm of the unbelievable.

Failing isn’t a true failure. It is a learning experience. It’s your practice of what works and what won’t. And as for your readers with the pitchforks and torches, just throw out some gasoline and watch the pretty colors before you return to work. 🙂

4 thoughts on “The Alchemist and the Writer

  1. And don’t forgot those people who don’t think you’re doing work that deserves to be paid. Grrr….

    We do work hard. It’s just that people see us sitting and think we’re not really doing anything. They can read in a few minutes what took us hours to write for a couple of pages and assume it’s as easy as when they read it. I wish everyone could understand how difficult it is. 😀

    I really enjoyed this post.


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