How is the hardest question.
Not who, not what, not when, not where.
Why can be difficult too,
but I still think it's how.

When a writer puts pen to paper
or begins tapping a keyboard,
there's usually a nugget of an idea.
There's a character, 
and the character is someplace.
That's two questions down.
The character wants something;
what the character wants 
is what plot springs from.
The why evolves as the words flow,
but how can throw a wrench in the machinery.

How do we go from idea to reality?
It's too easy to write yourself into a corner,
with no way out except go back 
to try the road not taken.
Too often those wrong steps
are repeated over and over and over
in an effort to get it right.
Sometimes, it's hard 
just trying to figure out
how to begin.

Like the prompt that led to this poem,
contrived, though it may be,
to use “How (blank)” as the title
and go from there. 
There are endless possibilities
for that blank.
Ask anyone who's spent time
with an inquisitive four-year-old.
How—and okay, why-- 
can reach to infinity.
The frustration can lead to 
screaming, hair-pulling,
or an inspired trip 
to get an ice cream 
as a distraction.
Answering the how in writing
often has the same result.
You can trust me on that one.

I'm tired of struggling with how.
I think I'll take the easy route
and think about where.
Dairy Queen, anyone?

~Elise Skidmore ©2023

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