My eight month old son loves those little wind-up toys you get for like a buck in the bins at the front of the toy store. (I know, not baby safe, TERRIBLE PARENT, but I only let him use them when I’m supervising, etc., etc., moving on…)

So, we’re playing with one yesterday: this little monkey who plays a tiny drum and shuffles around in a sort of straight line. I wind the monkey, and set it on a general trajectory for my son. It begins its little shuffle, tap-tap-tapping its plastic drum. And my son waits. He reaches a hand out, but pulls it back before grabbing the monkey. He lets it come to him. Only when it stumbles into his leg does he grab it. And almost as soon as he has it (and after giving it a perfunctory gumming), he puts it back down and waits for me to wind it again.

My son knows that the magic of the monkey is the approach, not the holding.

And this seemed like a perfect metaphor for writing.

 

The monkey is the idea for a story. I have to let it come to me, let it do its little shuffle and dance just beyond the reach of my consciousness. If I reach out and try to grab it too soon, if I try to pin it down the second it comes within my grasp, the magic vanishes. The story falls flat, is contrived, sounds like something I’ve read before.

I’ve learned I have to give the idea time. I must be patient.

At least as patient as an eight month old…

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