Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Out On a Limb

We had a bad series of violent storms yesterday afternoon in upstate New York. The trees, especially the old ones, took major hits from some pretty dramatic lightening strikes. Now there's a crew of tree workers right outside the window of my fourth floor writing studio taking down a huge maple tree that's got to be seventy or eighty years old.

It's kind of a sad site.

But I keep focusing on this one man who is tied on to the branch above him. He's hovering like a spider about twenty-five feet above the ground and working in the pouring rain, with the occasional flash of lightening and thunder cracking all around him. He's wearing a hardhat and a pair of heavy duty gloves and he's operating a hefty chainsaw. He seems to be enjoying his work, at least from the vantage point of my open top floor window.

It dawns on me that this man could choose a safer line of work. Something more sedate and office-like. But he prefers the danger of the high in the sky tree work. He likes working in the rain and the violent weather. He likes the insecurity of it all, the way it makes his blood flow faster through his veins than that of the blood of a man who prefers to play it safe.

When I travel to a distant place like West, Africa to report on what's happening there or when I start writing a new novel with no definite plan in mind, I experience pretty much the same adrenalin fueled rush that tree worker is feeling right now. It's a dangerous job being a writer. You never know what will happen, and always, there's the chance of crashing and burning.

What about you? Are you willing to go out on a limb as a writer?

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