Tuesday, November 5

Divine Intervention

     I’m supposed to be working on a novel right now, but life has had other ideas about what I’m “supposed” to be doing.  Topping the list of things that have distracted me was having our once-healthy spring go almost completely dry last week, and, worst of all, my dear brother-in-law had a heart attack at about the same time.  Needless to say, we’ve all been worried sick about him, but he had a stint put in and he’s doing well.  Thank God.

As far as our water is concerned, we’ve had 6” of rain over the last several days, and while that’s helped some, it looks as though our spring is on its last leg.  So, we’ve decided to put a well in. 

Yesterday, we had a “water diviner”, or a “water witch”, come out to find a good spot in which to dig our well.  For those of you who live someplace where old customs and beliefs are no longer considered a viable means of solving a problem, let me tell you a little about this water divining business. 

A stick is used to point out where there’s water on your property.  Usually a branch from a peach or willow tree is used, though this fellow, Matthew, cut a maple branch from my tree.  The small cutting was in the shape of a wishbone, and Matthew held the wide ends of the “Y” part of the “wishbone” while keeping the single stick part of it out in front of him.  When he came to a spot where there’s water, the stick bent over it.  It was quite an amazing thing to watch.  There the water diviner went, back and forth, in a pattern like he was mowing my lawn, and every now and then, that stick would bend.  It didn’t take him long to find the right spot.  When he felt a good, strong pull, he stuck the pointer end of the stick into the ground to mark it, and then I tied pink tape around it so that there was no mistaking where the spot was.  Soon enough, a giant drill will come out and bore down several hundred feet in that particular place simply because a maple branch signaled that there’s water there.

Now, if some of you are snickering in disbelief as you read this, let me just give some validity to this method by saying that a huge construction company had Matthew come all the way over to Charlotte, which is ninety miles away, just the day before yesterday to find water on the site they are working on.  Those people, with all of their experience and/or college degrees, not to mention all of their fancy, modern-aged equipment, relied on a man with a wishbone-shaped stick to find water, and I can guarantee you, they will proceed with their operation based on his findings.  So, if a multi-million dollar company relies on him, you can bet your last dollar we will, too.

There have been other distractions that have kept me from burning up the keyboard lately.  For instance, my sister came in town week before last and stayed for five days, and my husband’s birthday was last Tuesday, which required a celebratory outing and some fancy dining.  So, what does all of this have to do with writing, you might ask?  Nothing…and, at the same time, EVERYTHING.

There are times when my writing is waylaid, and I have no choice but to just go with the flow.  But I’ve come to understand that those non-writing times are as critical to my stories as the actual writing time is.  I look at it this way: My brain is in the marinating mode when I’m not actually creating sentences and chapters.  It’s absorbing all of the details of these events going on around me, which will ultimately add interesting layers and colorful patterns to my stories’ tapestries.  The bottom line is that distraction can be a wonderful form of action when it comes to enriching my work.

When we think we’re not doing much creatively, we have to take a deep breath and realize that our best work is highly influenced by real events, people and situations in our lives.  Instead of becoming frustrated, it’s important to understand that this is all part of the writing process, and that those experiences are pooling together to give us an abundance of ideas and material as plentiful as water in a deeply dug well.


  1. I love your posts--I always feel like I've had a visit with my NC family! My son and daughter-in-law's water is the best anywhere, so I hope their spring doesn't do what yours decided to do. I also hope your well water will be as good.

  2. Thank you, Liz. I take your words of praise as a very high compliment. The spring has "sprung" alive again from all of the rain (even more feel since I wrote the piece), but we're still getting the well put in.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Janie! You're so right - sometimes we just have to slow down...and not beat ourselves up for letting life get 'in the way'. Because as important as our fictional people are, the real people need us just as much.

  4. Maybe I need an attitude adjustment. I beat myself up when life interferes and I don't write. But maybe, like you, I should remember that the story is marinating in my head and not get so worked up about it.

    Years ago when I was a kid and we lived on the farm, we had a spring that ran all year long, even in deepest winter. The water, however, was terrible - full of iron. We brought in drinking water from a well several miles away. We didn't drink the water from the spring but the cows appreciated it. The farm was sold several years ago, but I wonder if the old spring is still running.

    1. It's hard not to beat yourself up, isn't it?! Interesting about your spring. You should work that into a book.

  5. My brain must be in permanent marinating mode lately. LOL

    Seriously, I loved this post. It was really interesting to learn about the water witch. City girl that I am, I never knew any of that and it's pretty fascinating.