Greetings all! I realize that it is traditional for professional writers to maintain a blog on a site like Goodreads to serve as some sort of self-promotional organ. But I was a reader long before I was ever a writer, and I would prefer to use this opportunity to celebrate my reading, and my love of language.
For those curious about the title of this blog: the Mill on the Inspiration River is a metaphor for an author’s love of words and language. The Mill is the stack of books that can be found on the bedside table or beside a favorite chair in a professional writer’s home. It’s the contents of those packed bookshelves overflowing with paperbacks and hardbacks, which so often conquer the wall space of every room. And it’s also the sturdy and highly functional apparatus that produces the fine language of your trade, whether you produce, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or plays.
Every human being who makes writing a profession, rather than a hobby or a chore, must maintain a constant relationship with the Word. In fact, I would say that a writer’s relationship to the Word is very much like a miller’s relationship to the Wind or the Water. You can grind grain into flour without a wind mill or a water wheel, it’s true–but unless you are able to harness that bountiful force of nature, your work will be hard, miserable and long. Grinding one stone against another with your bare hands is a slow and onerous task, and it grinds away your own joints like the wheat you’re trying to turn to flour.
The results of the labor, needless to say, will also leave much to be desired. Any archaeologist can spot the worn teeth of a person who spent a lifetime eating the gritty, sandy bread baked from grain that was badly milled.
A Mill for grinding out Words takes years to build. Every brick and board and stone was an hour spent in the library as a child, or a night under a blanket with a flashlight reading when you were supposed to be asleep. Your Mill is built out of stolen moments with a paperback novel in the park on your lunch break from work. Quiet evenings that you spent with a man who died decades or centuries ago rather than the one you married. Tears that you shed for people who never existed. Rage that sparked from the seething coals of an injustice committed before you were born. Ghosts that you inherit from pages written before the printing press, and printed before the digital age. Demons that were freshly minted last summer by a person whose flesh and blood hands you can shake at your next convention.
And of course, the work of building and maintaining that Mill never ends. In order to write, one must read. The Word must keep flowing through you, just as the wind and the water must keep up their endless motion past the sweeping blades to keep the miller in business.
I will try not to forget to post something when one of my books or stories is published or receives a positive (or at least amusing!) review. But for the most part I will use this space to write about what I’m reading, and why.
More blog entries in this series will follow, as I read and reflect on the novels, poems, short stories, histories and essays that flow past. I hope that my readers will enjoy seeing how the Word flows in this particular valley…and that these words will be a small part of great flowing river that powers new work.