burning thoughts

Can you stand another post about my cabin in the woods. I’m not bragging. I love that place.

When I’m away from my computer (generally, working for the man so I can pay my bills), random thoughts occur to me about the stories I’m working on. I write them on little sheets of paper I keep close at hand for that very purpose. Then, when I’m seated before my laptop, I transcribe those notes into the files of my stories. I crumble the notes and throw them in the tall trash can beside me.

Somewhere I got the crazy notion that I couldn’t throw these crumbled notes away until I had filled the can with them. I had to fill it to the point where the crumbled notes would fall out if I tried to put them in. (Don’t ask my why. Something to do with feeling productive, I suppose. It seems stupid and obsessive, even to me.)

Well, I finally filled the can with my notes, and I thought that I should give them one last use. I could use them as tinder for one of the campfires I have out at my little cabin. And so I did. I carried a bagful of them with me on my last trip and I used them as the base for the fire. I built the teepee structure over them, and then I put a match to them. (Full disclosure: not a match but a lighter.) They obliged me by taking the flame quickly. But then something happened I hadn’t expected.

Some of the crumbled notes flared faster and brighter than others. I could hear the hiss of these bursting into flame above the others. Obviously, these sheets contained my more brilliant thoughts. There’s no other explanation.

The photo I gave you of the cabin earlier this week wasn’t very good. Here’s a more recent shot, taken more close up. It’s a tiny cabin, but it’s enough for me. I’ve spent many productive hours doing nothing on that porch. Notice, also, the retaining wall I’ve built in front. But don’t look too closely at it. It is wavy in places. I used empty wine and beer bottles as backfill behind the wall. Someday someone is going to discover those and think they know why the wall is wavy. (The truth is that it is really tough to dig in the Ozark hardpan with a pickaxe and a shovel — and my level of motivation — so I followed the path of least resistance in some places. Whatever!)

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4 Comments on “burning thoughts”


  1. When I worked as a billing analyst, I used to write ideas on adding machine tape. It was great because I could control the length and then rip the note free and drop it in my briefcase. Back home, my desk was covered in these notes. I’m sure my wife would have loved using them to start a fire when they got out of hand!

    And yes — clearly the best ideas burned fastest and brightest! It’s nice seeing a closer shot of the cabin; it looks like quite a place!

  2. Averil Dean Says:

    The cabin is lovely. I’m a fan of small homes, actually–the ones we live in these days are far too big. I could live in your little cabin very happily.

  3. Annam Says:

    Very nice!


  4. […] I’m not surprised Paul writes as well as he does. He looks up to some great writers and has a place to get away from it all and […]


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