Tuesday, February 16

Imprinting the Moment

Yesterday, Liz wrote so eloquently about how much she loved to write and how it seems as though every situation--good or bad--gets filtered through her inner writer. She wondered if it was a bad thing that, even when she is in the midst of chaos and crisis, sickness and grief,  the writer is still creating--inventing scenes, conversations, and scenarios. I've thought it about it all day because I truly recognized myself in her post (that kindred spirit thing we share!), and I've been trying to decide if it's something to feel guilty about or not.

Personally, I think not. It's never a bad thing when our gift kicks in, even when it seems as though it's kicking in at an inopportune or inappropriate moment. Here's the thing--this is who we are, we writers. We absorb story wherever we go, whatever the situation and we should always keep that door in our minds and hearts open . . . or at least unlocked.**

Like Liz, as I sat in the hospice last year with my sister, Kate, I confess I often created stories about the folks who passed by her room. I didn't take notes, which I am wont to do too often, but snippets of conversations, expressions, people's appearances, even words that I probably had no business hearing, but did anyway because the doctor and the family were right outside Kate's door, got immortalized in my notebook later after I got home. I do it everywhere, watch and listen--hospitals, doctor's offices, restaurants, the grocery store, in the car . . .

I remember texting with Liz when I was in the airport on my way to stay with Son and Grandboy. It was really early in the morning, but Liz is a morning person, so texting her at seven a.m. wasn't out of line at all. I described some of my fellow passengers.There was the very old woman with the flowered cane who was waiting to preboard. She was elegant, dressed to the nines, and her lipstick was bright red--definitely a character. When I texted Liz about the too-cool guy in the black turtleneck and tweed sport coat with the ponytail, her answer was, "What's his story?" I didn't know then, but he's surely going to show up in a book one day--either hers or mine. It's what we do.

When writing is as necessary as breathing, you can't help yourself. And we shouldn't help ourselves or feel bad when it may seem that we aren't fully engaged in the moment. We are engaged, we're simply imprinting the moment. Not because that particular moment may end up in a story, although something like it could, I suppose. But more because when the time to actually sit down and write gets here, we need a deep well of words, settings, conversations, expressions, and emotions to draw upon to tell our stories. Also, writing life is what we do. . . even as it's happening, so Lizzie, never hush that writer in you, no matter when she turns up. She's why we are privileged to read your gorgeous and touching stories.

So, tell me, mes amies, does your inner writer kick in at times that may feel inappropriate? Do you shut her up or let it happen?

**The picture today is one I took in at the palace at Versaille, France when I was there with Son and DIL in 2009.

12 comments:

  1. What you said there, about being engaged--that's it. It startled me and in truth, upset me. Love your post, Nan, and thanks for the support!

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    1. Always, always, mon amie! I see why the thought that you may seem unengaged would bug you--that's what got me thinking yesterday--but we are engaged, just letting the situation become real.

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  2. All the time! I'm not sure what this says about me, but a week or so ago - at CHURCH, no less! - my characters started in with some smexiness. No, they weren't doing it on an altar and no, the sermon had nothing to do with sex...but there they were, in my head, getting it on while our minister talked about The Sermon on the Mount....

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    1. LOL, Kristi! Was it the word "mount" that you got you started? ;-) No worry--we've all done it, honey!

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  3. Kristi - LOL! I think during the Sermon on the Mount is a perfect time for your characters to scream out the name of their deity! :-)
    Nan - an excellent description of what it's like to be a writer! I can't think of a specific time when it has happened to me, but the writerly vapors of creativity are always wafting, so I'm sure it happens all the time without my even being cognizant of it!

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    1. Hey, Ava! I know, right? It's always there and we can't stop it, so we may as well embrace it and not feel bad.

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  4. I never tell my inner writer to shut up. In fact, I sometimes actively solicit her opinions. :)

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    1. There you go, my friend! That is the attitude we should all be going for! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. My writer's mind and eye are always at work. I write stories about students on campus, friends I meet or most often, people I see on the street or at a restaurant or store. It can be distracting, especially when I start thinking up stories in church! My frustration is that sometimes I lose these stories because I am not at a place where I can write them down. When I try to think of them later they are gone.

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  6. Hi, Carolyn, so glad you stopped by! I thought that's what the edges of the church bulletin were for--quick notes... ;-)

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  7. At my dad's funeral--is that inappropriate enough? I found myself looking around and wondering about these people--some I didn't know, some I hadn't seen in forever, and some close friends. That wonderment was a distraction on what should've been a very hard day. For me, being a writer--even in inappropriate times is always a gift :)

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    1. Okay, Margie--you win! ;-) We all do it...and yes, sometimes we're gifted a distraction when we need it most, something to keep us from standing up and screaming or wailing like a banshee. And yes, I agree--it's always a gift to be a writer, even when it's painful. :-)

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