Once a week I head out on a fishing expedition for words. I’m looking for those words, conversations, and ideas that will inspire me creatively. I’m armed with my fishing gear: an imaginary trusty fishing rod, a tablet, and at least two pens. I pick a fishing spot where I’ve been told the words are running, usually a restaurant not so noisy that it scares away the words.
It has to be a place where the schools of people swimming by will be oblivious of an older woman sitting quietly, alone with her fishing rod in hand. I bait my line with its multiple hooks with patience, determination, and concentration. Then I take in a deep breath, pulling my rod back over my shoulder and cast it out into the waters as I exhale. I watch as the weight at the end of the line sinks below the surface. I want to go deep where the meatiest words hide amongst the kelp leaves. I want juicy, exquisite words that help to create the best stories.
I sit motionlessly. I watch for movement, ripples, and air bubbles that reach the surface. It takes time. You must believe and be willing to stay present. I breathe in and out and I patiently wait as every good fisherman does.
Suddenly, there is an almost undetectable nibble. Just wait, just wait, I tell myself, my heart rate increasing. Soon, it happens again, several nibbles. There! Now! I pop my rod, setting the hooks. I’ve got them.
The words struggle, turning this way and that, attempting to swim away. But I begin to reel in my line, ever so slowly, from that trio of people two booths away. They’re talking about an eventful vacation, a colorful taxi driver, and a possible long-distance romance. The story is coming together as the words break the surface and become visible. There is a word on each hook. This is a bonus.
The sounds of the words enter first through my ears. But soon they are nesting in my mind, calling other words to join them. Now I’m able to put down my rod and pick up my pen. I begin as the words flow out with the ink and find their perfect place on the paper.
Once upon a time…
Note: illustration was drawn by my granddaughter, Talia Burton.