I read stories, A River Runs Through It and The River Why, and both made me into a fisherman. But two summers ago, on one of my last nights on the lake, I caught a fish and it made me a storyteller. The fish got away, but it was a big one, heavy and strong, as all the ones that get away are. My friend Matthew let me have my story and a week later his older brother caught my fish. It was as heavy and strong as I knew it was.
When I was small, I went fishing in the early morning with my father and my older brother on Lake Nockamixon. We wore denim jeans with holes in the knees and we wore flannel shirts. We stood on the rocky edges in the cove casting and reeling, casting and reeling and I caught a small bass, my first fish and my father said we should let it go. I slid it from my hands, into the pool beside me and watched its speckled body through water reflecting the sky like one of those paintings on the PBS shows we watched in the afternoons. My first fish.
I helped my uncle catch a fish when I was nine years old. He kept it for himself and I never said otherwise. Hindsight says that if anyone was helping anyone it was probably my uncle helping me. But I wanted bragging rights more than the fish itself.
A writer never knows when the stories will quit him or her and the stories have quit me this month. I feel like every word I bring up is a bottom dweller and better left to swim away in clearer waters. The words I bring to the surface are the ones that get away, no matter how strong they feel on the line and in my hands, they get away.
This makes me still a storyteller in the same way, though. I am simply telling the story of words instead of letting the words tell the story that should have been.
Tonight I feel sick in my soul and the words feel far, far from me.
I remember a line from A River Runs Through It. It was underlined in my copy of the book and probably written it on a scrap of paper tacked to my wall: Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.
And I know that is me, that I am watching and waiting for something to become perfect, a final crescendo into resolution, the one that doesn’t ever get away. But I am a writer, I am. I may spend half my time trying to convince myself that I am a writer, but the truth is that I am one and the only way I am one at all is to stop waiting for the perfect fish to hook my line and still cast anyway.
…I am watching and waiting for something…Click to tweet this post