Friday, 27 April 2012

X is for X Marks the Spot

"X" today in my A-Z series "26 Things that Made Me a Writer". Nearly there!!

I thought I'd make today's post a little more creative and fun. What better way than with "X Marks the Spot"?

We all loved pirate stories when we were kids. Heck, most adults still love them. I didn't read Treasure Island, the flashpoint for many a pirate trope, until I was 26. That spirit of adventure is infectious. Finding buried treasure would be about the coolest thing in the world, wouldn't it?

So bear with me, I'm coming to the point. Finding that treasure is a lot like finding a good story, or even having a story but finding its meaning. You start off without a map, so first of all you have to find that, by which point you might have already covered quite a lot of terrain and have an idea of the lie of the land. Or then again, possibly not.

Then you have to learn how to read the map. It might look pretty daunting, with mountains, forests, bandits and spooky caves. How are you going to find your way through? A lot of these maps weren't exactly accurate. The "X" could be tiny and almost impossible to find. If you decide to take the boat and sail round to that handy-looking cove, better watch out for those sharks and assorted sea monsters. In other words, trying to take shortcuts might not be such a good idea.

So let's say you think you've reached the magic spot and you start to dig. That can be back-breaking work. Who knows how far down that fabled trove is? And you have to hope that no one got there before you.

But if they did, hopefully what you learned along the way will be just as, if not more, valuable.

Pirate fan? Does writing feel like a treasure hunt to you?

15 comments:

Cynthia said...

What an insightful analogy. Just so happens that The Goonies was one of my favorite childhood movies. Now that you mention it, writing can be a treasure hunt with the beauty of it being that I can find X by more than one trail. But I must watch out for those sharks and sea monsters. =)

Trisha said...

I just had a story idea last night that I think is pretty cool, but I have no clue how the heck I'm gonna actually write the story out. I am at that "daunted" stage with it, but I know it'll come clear as time moves on :)

Kyra Lennon said...

This is a very, very clever analogy! I think writing really is a lot like a treasure hunt. I guess the key is knowing when to keep digging, and when you're digging in the wrong place!

Tobi Summers said...

You know, I never thought of it like that, but yeah, writing is a lot like a treasure hunt. You know, if you didn't have a map and you were partially blind with a crippled left leg. :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a good analogy. Tough figuring out how to get to the X.

Mina Burrows said...

I'm a huge pirate fan, but not until I read Stevenson's Treasure Island. I didn't catch it until later on, but still gave me a greater appreciation for pirates. Your analogy is perfect. :)

Shelley Sly said...

I like this analogy. I specifically thought of the outlining process (I'm a plotter) and how following my outline feels like I'm reading a treasure map, getting so close to that X... when I realize that the X is a bit farther than I thought, meaning that I need to adjust and rework my outline a bit as my story progresses.

Mel said...

Such a great, and true, post!

Maryann Miller said...

LOL, yes, sometimes writing does seem like a treasure hunt, but what thrill when we find that gem of a word or phrase or plot point that pushes our work beyond the ordinary.

Chuck said...

Second X marks the spot post I have tonight and I like them both!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick .. I love the thought of being able to draw up a treasure map - sadly that's not a talent .. the thought process might be ..

Enjoy your treasure map of holiday ahead .. have fun .. cheers Hilary

Donna L Martin said...

Hi...I'm hopping over from the A to Z Challenge. Can you believe the challenge is almost over? Lovely blog...good luck with future posts!

Donna L Martin
www.donasdays.blogspot.com

Donna L Martin said...

Hi...I'm hopping over from the A to Z Challenge. Can you believe the challenge is almost over? Lovely blog...good luck with future posts!

Donna L Martin
www.donasdays.blogspot.com

Nick Wilford said...

Cynthia - I didn't think of the Goonies, what a good shout. Yes, there are various routes, and the easiest one may not be the best!

Trisha - Good luck with it! Hopefully you'll make good progress. :)

Kyra - It could be quite dispiriting to find out you're in the wrong place, but it should make finding that treasure all the sweeter!

Tobi - Well, you'd look like a classic pirate then!

Alex - Nothing good ever comes easy.

Mina - I read it later on too, along with a lot of his books. Don't know how I missed them before! Thank you.

Shelley - I'm more of a pantser, so my map is very vague. I think I won't see the X until I'm right on top of it!

Nick Wilford said...

Mel - Thanks very much!

Maryann - It's certainly exciting.

Chuck - I wonder what the other one was like - finding it now would be a mission!

Hilary - You have to know the terrain to draw the map, so I guess I'm drawing mine as I go along. Thanks, the holiday was amazing!

Donna - Thanks for stopping over. I'll check out your blog, sorry I missed your A-Z posts!