January 21, 2021 in Dag

Going to the story well

The image of the well is quite an engaging one. Makes you think of shepherds coming in from the desert to feed their flocks, or humble peasants lining up with buckets.

Back in those times, a well would have felt like the most important place in the world – the primary source of health and well-being. Without the water sourced from its depths, there would be no community, no life. And lowering that bucket must have sometimes felt like a bit of a gamble. What would be drawn out? Would it be crisp, clear, life-giving water, or dank and dirty mud? Or would the well be dry, with no water left to draw?

Times are different now. We no longer need to go to the well to acquire the water we need. In our modern communities, water is piped in, and all we have to do is turn a tap and we get a good flow of watery goodness.

But as a writer, I still feel like there’s a well I rely on. It’s not a well for water. As mentioned, that’s not a thing we worry about any more. It’s a well for stories.

I feel like I have a story well inside my head. It’s deep and dark. Most of the time I have no idea what’s in there. But it’s full of stories, sloshing around. All I need to do is drop a bucket down into that well and it will emerge with a new story, all ready for the writing.

At least that’s the idea. The reality can be a little more complex. Like those shepherds or peasants in my minds eye, any effort to draw from the story well can be considered as something of a gamble. I’m never sure what I’ll pull out.

Sometimes a story can be clear, like the clearest water. I know exactly what it is and how it will work as I write it out. Other times, it’s a little bit muddy. Yes, the basic idea is there, but it’s hard to make out and I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do with it.

Of course, the worst times are when I go to the story well and I find that it’s dry. No matter how hard I try, I can’t pull a story out if it. Luckily, those times are few, and I find that with time, the level of stories in the well starts to build up again. But, like any writer, I do live in fear for that time when the story well dries up completely, and I find I have no more stories left to write. Here’s hoping that won’t be for a very long time.

As a writer, the story well serves the same purpose as those wells of antiquity. For me, it’s a source of life and sustenance. Let’s hope it remains full of clear and vibrant stories for many years to come.


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