I've just escaped from the Ecuadorian jungle. I say 'escaped' as it makes it all sound more adventurous. In fact I was with an organised tour - but it was still something of an expedition: a flight from Quito, bus ride, then two hours in a fast boat down the Napo river, and then a walk (over an hour) through the jungle to the lodge. Not a trip for the faint-hearted. (It is possible, when water levels are higher, to get there by canoe down small creeks and waterways.)
I was in the upper Amazon basin. And the diversity, of plant, tree, bird, insect and mammal life is astonishing - and precious. We saw giant otters - so rare they are listed as endangered. We saw monkeys and turtles and caiman. We saw frogs and beetles and spiders (including a tarantula).
And - deep underneath all this wonderfulness - is oil. The oil companies are circling. Just one road into the jungle, they say (with its truck and belching diesel). Just a few wells (with homes for the workers, and machinery, and constant flames). At the moment the area is protected, but this is a poor country and the temptation is huge.
Which got me thinking. As writers we are told to 'murder our darlings'. To highlight all that stuff we've grown unreasonably attached to and press the delete button. Only when we've done that can we make a reasoned assessment of our writing, to discover that which is working and weed out the dross.
All very reasonable. But what if our darlings - without our realising it - are treasures? What if we give in to the pressures of all those 'tips for writers' that proliferate on Twitter? What if we turn our backs on something wonderful on the basis that we can make more money writing twaddle?
None of which implies that our darlings might be wonderful. But if they matter to us they need to be treasured in some way, if only to remind ourselves that we can do this. In the same way that this wonderful jungle needs to be protected from the greed of the oil companies - but this time all our lives may depend on it.