Discovering Gold in Your Writing

"Prospector Man" and Pam Martin
“Thar’s gold in them thar hills!” During a recent mining expedition, I not only acquired real gold but gleaned some writing nuggets as well.

The Thermal City Gold Mine located in Rutherford County, North Carolina was our destination. Well-known for its authenticity, my son and I were excited about prospecting for gold.

Other enthusiastic families joined us in the hunt. However, a couple of hours into our dig, our youngest ones lost interest. They found more joy playing in the dirt.

Eventually, someone found a flake of gold. Yeah! I wanted to find gold! I picked up another handful of sediment and plopped it in my miner’s pan. Sloshing it back and forth in the water, just like the prospecting mentor taught us. Slosh, slush, slosh, slush. Nothing.

Another shout came from a gold-finder. It wasn’t I. One by one, almost everyone in our crowd found gold. I was happy for them. I wanted to be happy for me too. Slosh, slush, slosh, slush over and over again. Then I hit gold!

My yippee soon turned to an awww. It was just a flashy piece of mica. Slosh, slush, slosh, slush. Finally, there it was. I could hardly contain my excitement as I showed it to Mr. Prospector-Man. No flashy mica this time. He swirled it around in the pan a few times then told me to dump it. Whatever was in there was probably fool’s gold. I had been deceived again.

Slosh, slush, slosh, slush. The only thing the muddy water was producing for me was a cooling element from the sun. Frustration was setting in. Hours had passed and not a speck of gold. It was time for a lunch break.

The food and fellowship were great. There was renewed energy. After lunch, we worked together panning sediment that had gone through a filtering machine. Whatever gold, found in this sediment, would be divided equally among us.

As I stood there sloshing and slushing, I realized writing is similar to panning for gold.

·         It takes hours of work before you produce anything that has value. Then it takes many more hours to achieve your next golden nugget (which could be the next chapter or just the next sentence!)

·         It’s easy to get frustrated especially if others around you are celebrating success. While you rejoice with them, you still want your hard work to pay off and produce something awesome too.

·         It’s easy to get distracted with flashy words. Writers can become disillusioned with their work, thinking it is perfect when it’s not.

·         Don’t linger too long in the slush. Be thorough. Make steady progress. Realize when something you’re writing isn’t working. Dump it and start fresh.

·         Know when to take a break. It’s a valuable asset.

·         It helps to work with others, especially those who are skilled in the business. They have a keen eye that comes from years of experience. Learn from them.

Gold found at Thermal City Gold Mine
A collaboration of my friends enabled me to take home a small vial of gold nuggets, er...flakes. The gold didn’t bring me wealth but I’d say the experience was enriching.

Slosh, slush, slosh, slush.

How about you?
What nuggets have you gleaned from seasoned writers?