A Controlled Burn Off

As you read this, I will be sitting on a beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. My annual escape to the place where my creative energies are at their height likely harkens back to my happiest childhood memories, which, with few exceptions, are a mélange of saltwater, beaches, boats and family celebrations. Not only did I vacation with my family on the Cape, our waterfront home was an idlic oasis at a time when no one thought twice about a seven year old taking long solitary walks on the beach early in the morning.

The premise of many of my novels, and much of my nonfiction are based on those experiences filtered through the mind of this adult, struggling to recapture and/or protect the mystical allure as well as the memories of people and places that are long gone or seriously endangered.

The writer’s block I’ve been chronicling here on the Soulmate Author Blog has eased. I’ve checked three novels out of the library: a mystery, a romance, and a British historical. And I’ve spent the last week buried in necessary revisions of a completed novel that I’d put off for so long that they had grown to monstrous proportions–and turned out to be no big deal. And I’ve drafted three short memoir pieces which synthesize the universal truths of past and present experiences.

Myth and Moor blogger Terri Windling writes,

“Here in Devon, there’s an old rural tradition of swaling: a controlled burning of overgrown heath land that clears out dead vegetation and allows for new growth. Perhaps creative burn-out can be viewed as an inner form of swaling, creating the space and enriching the soil where fresh ideas can germinate. A burn-off rather than a burn-out, clearing the ground for years of life and art still to come.”

Terri’s wise words admonish writers to do for themselves what they do for characters. The Unfinished Business series is based on the premise of synchronicity, which assumes that chains of events that appear to be coincidence may be reconciliation of events in the past.  

I suspect that many of my fellow authors, as well as our readers, are in great need of swaling after the experience of a worldwide pandemic and its impact on every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

From Storm Watch:

Would his wife and his kid—and all their ghostly baggage—do him in this time?

He and Liz had survived the first round, and they’d remained hopeful the specters would settle down. But there was enough unfinished business for any cosmic disturbance to rile them up again. This storm watch was more than just a minor blip on the radar—or a coincidence.

Noisy seagulls hunted as the storm with enough power to blow them to Rhode Island threatened. Mike rolled his shoulders, flexing the stiff muscles in his back, trying to imagine he could shed his wife and his son to escape the gaping jaws of Captain Edward Barrett’s legacy. Normally a lingering, vague threat, it rubbed him raw at moments like this when he had nothing to do but wait for the bay to come in around him so he could go out and make a living.

He rinsed his hands in a tide pool. The shadow sent hermit crabs scurrying. Brine stung his knuckles but stopped the oozing with that invisible layer of stickiness every saltwater fisherman learns to love. An incoming tide rolled across the flats as the storm clouds amassed.

The boat teeter-tottered on its keel as Mike climbed aboard and settled into a seat. Reassured by the glimmering water rippling in to release him from bondage, he readied his fishing gear. Chants of “ohmmmmm” from morning beach yoga carried in the breeze. At least that was connection with living spirits, as opposed to the dead, stale vestiges of lives ended too soon who were unable to give up and let go.


About caroleannmoleti

Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Mother. Writes fantasy because walking through walls is easier than running into them. Writes political commentary, memoir and creative nonfiction because....I am not a well behaved woman.
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5 Responses to A Controlled Burn Off

  1. sueberger3 says:

    Great term, swaling. . I suspect we all do need that. Thank you

  2. viola62 says:

    I, too, have a cherished place. I’m also trying desperately to complete a new contemporary romance. The school year is beginning, and the day job will take over.

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