Random notes, at first. A moment. A facial expression. A plot point. A name. The color of an eye. A sound.

A book just begin, a story unformed, is unknowable territory. A thing without landmarks.

As you look out from where you stand, there is nothing to point the way from one place to any other place. You stand beside a single tree, a lone bit of identity, but that’s all there is. The path is invisible under your feet. The truth of the story, its plot and its logic, whatever they are, are bound in mist. Finding your way through this impenetrable fog is only going to get you more lost than you were when you started. You knew that going in. It was this way the last book. It’ll be that way the next.

This is the territory of doubts and questions. You ask Why? Which way? Most of the time, there is no answer.  The infinity of possibilities is a very very big place to be wandering in. And “vague” is not a direction.

Then, after all the worry and aimlessness, you spy another tree through the haze. Same kind of tree as the one you’re standing beside. Suddenly, you have two parts of what might turn out to be a forest. If you can reach that tree, maybe another one will reveal itself to you. And it does. But it’s behind you, not in front. Still, two trees. Better than just one.

Now the landmarks begin to reveal themselves more readily. A shrub. The slope of a hill. You’ve discovered the first hint of a landscape. Suddenly, the path shows itself for a few yards ahead. But it doesn’t run straight. And have I mentioned, you still don’t have a clue which way you’re going. Or even what the destination is.

This is the time for self-forgiveness and instinct, when all you want to do is panic and run. There’s a story out there somewhere. But being lost—it doesn’t last forever. And where you’re going…well, you’ll know that when you get there.

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