A few years ago I was living on a friend’s homestead high in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina. Beautiful two story home, hundreds of untouched acres to roam, lively mountain streams and creeks to follow, winding paved roads and gravel strewn two-tracks, up and down hills and vales.
You get the idea. It truly is a mountain paradise, and I will always be grateful for my time there, in a writer’s retreat of sorts.
So many home owners in the area had either livestock or farm yard animals or both, free-ranging and/or penned. One of the primary concerns those owners shared was regarding predators. Mountain lions, bears, coyotes among them, ready to track and kill for survival. Handy food sources served that purpose.
Before any predator could become a serious danger to the safety and security of home owners, small hunting parties would be organized to track and eliminate the threat. If the threat was too large to handle, efforts would be made to chase the animal away, higher up the mountain to less populated areas, or off into deeper sections of the surrounding forests.
If the animal was of a size that it could be taken down locally, then the focus became tracking the beast. Obviously, someone in the party had to have had previous experience tracking, and knew how to read the signs that would lead them to the lair or cave or whatever kind of refuge the animal found for itself.
There the threat would be eliminated, and owners could relax. Until the next threat event, that is.
Tracking the beast is analogous to following a creative idea to its conclusion. For writers, it’s a daily challenge, one that can be successful only if the author has the skills for tracking the idea to its place of origin.
It can take years to develop the skills needed to read the signs. Emotional, physical, mental, spiritual; these are the different kinds of signs a writer faces, but each kind has its own clues, and not all will reveal themselves.
As skilled hunters will tell you, sometimes it’s not the kill (read conclusion) that matters, it’s the journey, tracking the beast that is the thrill.