There’s an old Taoist story about a farmer whose horse ran away. His neighbors on hearing this came to him and said, sympathetically, “Such bad luck!” “We’ll see,” the farmer replied. The next day the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “So wonderful!” the neighbors exclaimed. “We’ll see,” the farmer said. Then …
The journal is a writer’s compost bin. It’s tucked out back, behind the fence or along the alley where the smell won’t waft into the kitchen and the fruit flies won’t irritate the gardeners. You add to it daily, or at least whenever you’ve got a heaping bucket of scraps (read: baggage) to unload.
Every story has a hidden life—a soul, if you will. How writers tend this soul significantly affects our work and our well-being. This tending is really active listening. It’s both willful, sprung from the self, and responsive, heeding that life-force beyond the story and its readership.
Contemplation is our central task as writers, and as human beings.