Cool things to keep

There are times – hours, days, months if you’re lucky – when things seem to gel, and serendipity hovers one step ahead of you. Those times are precious. The past month has not been one of those.

However, I did want to share what I have found to be a really cool idea – it works well for me, and it may work well for others, too. Let me preface this by disclosing that I edit obsessively. It really is pathological. And one piece of advice that has been really helpful as I’ve fretted and despaired the loss of words, thoughts, angles, and concepts – has been ‘Don’t get attached to any particular sentence’ (I wish I could remember where I heard that first, and now I can’t find the exact quote). It’s been both painful and liberating to heed this advice. And I think I’ve hit upon a compromise that works: when I feel that for the sake of cohesion a certain sentence or paragraph or attribute needs to disappear, I copy and paste that part into a ‘Cool things to keep’ file, and let it sit (or fester). Then, if I decide to put it back in, it’s intact. If not, it can (and has) germinate into another story idea. It works well! I’ve now written a few new things after perusing this file.

It’s been a process to accept the need to cut while editing. It undoubtedly improves the final product, but man – is it ever torturous sometimes. I am one of those people who start with an image or a word, or – yes – a particular sentence – and build a whole story around that one idea. Having to cut the initial image or word or sentence that started the story is horrifying, quite frankly. And yet, it has sometimes cut the string that lets it fly in a better direction – or, er, out the window to disappear forever. Whichever.

Oh well, back to work. My collection of rejection letters needs some tending. Happy writing.



Mount Kinabalu (Tanka and thoughts)


Clouds drift down as mists

Blanketing a craggy slope

Thin air rife with peace.

Reflecting on the future

In the midst of perfection

© Nadia Brown, 2016

Many years ago, I spent some time in southeast Asia. Among countless other incredible experiences, I had the good fortune to climb Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, located in the Malaysian portion of Borneo. The summit is 4,095 m, and on the first day, we climbed with our guide Mario to where the landscape changed from dense, shaggy trees and misty slopes to a sweeping expanse of rock that disappeared quickly into the clouds. There is a house at this spot and there we stayed, eating and resting, until about 3 am. And then, in the dark, flashlights dangling from backpack straps, we left ‘Laban Rata’ and began the trek to the summit. The climb to the peak was over sheer rock, with ropes placed along the most difficult portions.  Hand over hand in the cold wind, hoping that the path ahead of you did not lead to a cliff. Here and there, people sprawled on the rock, wilting from the thin air – vomiting; waiting. Luckily, we had arrived at base camp a few days prior, and acclimatized more easily than some. The point of this trek was to arrive at the summit just before dawn. We did. I can tell you, seeing the sunrise from the top of the world, clouds on fire below you, muscles aching wildly – it’s a kind of bliss that has no equal.