An Italian truffle hound digs up only ripe truffles. Its nose is that fine tuned. I don’t claim to find only ripe, valuable details when I collect data. Sometimes I have no immediate use for a detail that catches my attention. Like knowing about truffle hounds. Turns out that they come from a long line of retrievers from a lake district in Italy and are called Lagotto Romagnolos. Of what possible use is this information? Well, I just used it to get myself primed for this blog entry.
Often I feel that information comes to me via some vibe in the universe that has me in mind and wafts an image or idea in front of me, says “Notice this.” But I suspect that I have primed myself to accept the unexpected. I read a lot, and not just what I should read. This week I read three novellas by Jim Harrison under the title of The Beast God Forgot to Invent. I read I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced. I read several items online about a weather phenomenon called a gray swan storm–one of great rarity and power, hard to predict. Add in a number of Richard Hugo’s poems and several pieces of short fiction from Crab Orchard Review. No disciplined research here, right?
But I need that diversity as a writer. I’ll not use all of the stuff I stuffed into my head, but it’s there in my curio cabinet just in case. And that thing about serendipitous deliveries? “Chance favors the prepared mind” (Pasteur). Writing is not about the self, but about the self in connection with the world and its horrors and wonders. Go ahead, snuffle around in the dirt. Be a truffle hound. Who knows what rare, succulent things you’ll find?