Writing and the Reverse Gravity of Waterfalls

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Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park

Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park. This fall has steps.  Wedding Veil, which I’m talking about below, doesn’t but is a thinner trickle.

My husband, Charley Brown, mugging for the shot.

My husband, Charley Brown, mugging for the shot.

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When you get into the crevasse of a mountain’s waterfall, there seems to be some kind of reverse gravity that sucks you up into its breast. I was reminded of this recently as my daughter and I scrambled over boulders up the tiers of the Wedding Veil waterfall in Yosemite National Park, California last month. You have to place your hands and feet carefully on the rocks and leverage your weight as you climb up into one pool, then in the one above. You strategize the best path to take, lest you climb into a spot you can’t get down from, and with each step and hand hold, the view changes and new plans have to be made at a moment’s notice. The activity is mesmerizing, fatigue falls away, and you climb faster than you should, driven to get up to the top by physical magnetism.

It’s a lot like finishing the definitive rewrite of a novel, which I did recently. As you get closer to the end, the drive to finish overtakes you, even as the fear of finishing fights you, and you find yourself spending all day, writing, writing, writing. Of course I’m not finished, finished. Still have to ask my writing group and other friends to read and give feedback, still have to tinker with sentences here and there, and proofread several times for errors. But the big work is done. Feels good and a little scary. Unlike climbing to the base of a waterfall, where you sit and bask in the mist and power of falling water, you get to the end of a novel and feel a little lost, as in, what now?

Find a different waterfall to climb, I guess.

About laledavidson

My novel Blue Woman Burning will be published by Red Penguin Books in the fall of 2021: "In the cold descending breeze of the Altiplano between Chile and Bolivia, Fallon’s narcissistic mother bursts into flames before her family’s eyes. The inexplicable nature of their loss marks each family member in a different way. For Fallon it is the first step toward adulthood. For her older brother, it is a blow he never recovers from. Thirteen years later, Fallon is about to conquer self-doubt and apply to medical school, when another calamity sends her reeling. The event prompts a cross country search for a truth worth living for. What she discovers changes everything." My stories have appeared in The Collagist, Big Lucks, and Eclectica, among others. I was a finalist for the Franz Kafka Award issued by Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review as well as the Black Lawrence Chapbook Contest of 2015 and the Talking Writing Award for humorous writing advice. My story “The Opal Maker” was named Wigleaf top 50 (Very) Short Stories of 2015. I am a distinguished professor of writing and recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Creative Activity. My opinions are mine alone and do not represent the opinions anyone with whom I am affiliated.

2 responses »

  1. Wow, Lale, that’s a neat gravity-defying trick you used walking up, or moving sideways, along those stairs. Nice piece. I can relate to the feeling of being lost, the “what now” sensation of finishing something. Nothing a sideways walk along a vernal falls can’t help

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    • Thanks, Dave. Yes, in my caption that didn’t appear, I wrote that I wasted a half hour trying to figure out how to export the video to IMovie so I could rotate it, but in the end, I figured it would be much easier if you just turn your laptop sideways.

      Like

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