The Archaeology of Wordsmithing: Introducing “The Contemplative Shaman”

feWkU1491004560There are times when writing feels like an artisanal endeavor and the “wordsmith” moniker feels appropriate. But far more often, and increasingly so, I can only call it “found art.”  The work feels much less like the crafting of something new, and much more like unearthing something old that was left for us to discover and understand anew. Digging in the dirt of consciousness, brushing off bone fragments to find their edges and intuit where they might fit together, and so on.

Much less sexy work than sculpting or painting, unless you’re Indiana Jones and get to race Nazis all over the world to find these gems (or stare down the icy, ghoulish countenance of their 21st century American counterparts and work unfazed).

The latest example is going to be the best one yet. I feel like I might have dug up the equivalent of a pod of fully intact dinosaur skeletons. It will soon be on display at Not Two as a series of articles under the title “The Emergence of the Contemplative Shaman.” It is the most ambitious project I’ve started this side of the novel and the website itself.

The work on this excavation began well over a year ago as a single comment in reaction to a meme on Facebook. I pasted the comment into a Google Document and stashed it in the New Article Seeds folder because it seemed to have potential. Mind you, at this point it said nothing about contemplative shamans –I hadn’t unearthed/coined the phrase yet.

The seed was then turned into two posts for various pantheism discussion groups on Facebook (where much of my new material first sees the light of day), the second of which alone was over 2,000 words. There was at least one other planned that never materialized, though I still hold the subterranean form of the idea in the back of my head.

The posts were then pasted into another document destined for one of my Back Burner folders –I have one for “simmer” and another for “high heat”– and left there until this past month while other projects jumped ahead. (Such is the nature of the back burner, the meat and potato dishes of the lot; it’s good stuff, and I can be planning something there for dinner tonight, but then get a raging appetite for enchiladas. This can go on for months.) Once the remodeled Not Two was complete, I decided it was time to move the rough draft of the piece to the Under Construction folder, signifying that the dig was underway in earnest.

My goal was to make the whole shebang fit into 2,500 words, published in two installments.

Um, no….Not even close, it told me, as more and more bones surfaced, and my mind’s eye started adding flesh and skin to them. I soon realized another series was in the works.

It was really today, though, while going back to the beginning to add what turned out to be a large volume of descriptive meat to its gaunt facial features, that I realized (I think –the exact perimeter of the dig hasn’t been established yet) the full scope and significance of what this piece is, and why it must be written now.

What was the beginning of Part One has splintered off to become a bona fide Introduction, which I will post here next and mostly let speak for itself. Suffice it to say, the scared-stiff world of Don the Con and his sycophants will get the metaphysical exam that the disease of a $54 billion defense budget hike calls for, and a clear diagnosis, without being mentioned by name.

NEXT:  Emergence of the Contemplative Shaman — Introduction

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