Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately -- many people will help you unintentionally. - Santha Rama Rau
Patrick over at Adventures in Writing ended his Friday post with the above quote. I found the quote as inspiring as Janet Reid's post titled less than zero which I linkity-linked to last week.
The above quote is less a pat on the back, a sense of accomplishment, then it is a statement about our lives and what makes us writers, other than the fact that we've written a novel, twenty unfinished manuscripts (btw Elana, I'm on Chapter 2121 now - I'm making progress), a short story or whatever. Yeah, those accomplishments make us writers, but they are only one part of the complex equation.
You see, dear readers, life itself makes us writers as well. I don't know about anybody else, but the world around me is inspiration - the conversations I overhear (okay, I eavesdrop, but I'm a writer, I'm allowed), the confrontations I witness, the moments of my life that were so filled with drama they're etched permanently into my mind, the dancer on a dance floor, the woman proudly wearing her new hat to church, and so many other things.
My anger is often inspiration. As everybody should know by now, a 15 year old girl was gang raped during a dance at her high school. At least 10, if not more people, watched this happen and . . . did nothing. This makes me mad. The fact that a woman was dead for 23 years and nobody noticed makes me mad. Anger inspires me to write, normally not short stories, but blog posts on my other blog. Life is unfair. I write about that unfairness because the only thing that can make you (me) a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you (me).
I sometimes think I see past the facade - what is happening here/now - to the emotions behind an event. Okay, I don't really see past the facade, but I'm able to create a scene in my mind, and eventually on to virtual paper, based on the facade. If I see two women arguing - well, I can pretty much create endless scenarios as to why they are arguing.
Scenario One - woman stylishly dressed, make up carefully applied, every hair in place just found out her best friend was having an affair with her husband. Best friend is vehemently denying the accusation while all the time she is clasping and unclasping her hands.
Scenario Two - woman stylishly dressed, make up carefully applied . . . just let her best friend know that her best friend's husband might be cheating on her . . .
And the scenarios could go on endlessly, but eventually end up in something I'm writing or will write at some point in the future.
I don't just see an argument between two women, I see an unfolding vista of stories. I don't just see leaves falling off a tree, I see something else entirely. The fog shrouded street last Thursday morning, tendrils of pink in the sky, and slate grey, almost flat clouds, were not just fog, colors, and clouds, no, that scene evoked . . . the woman walked slowly down the street toward the fog, the man behind her walked more slowly. Her pace quickened, his slowed. She reached the edge of the fog before him. She glanced over her shoulder, smiled, and then stepped into the fog. The man did not. He stood frozen in place.
The woman felt the fog wrap around her. She shivered. She kept walking. Silence was all about her. She could see the dim outline of trees in the distance. She shouldn't be seeing trees. She should be seeing the shapes of the houses at the end of the cul-de-sac. Where were the houses?
So, such a simple thing as fog, pink in the morning sky, and slate grey clouds became something more than fog, pink, and clouds.
We are writers because we are writers, because our lives shaped the path we took to this crazy, exciting, frustrating, angst ridden, adventure known as the writing life. Every moment in our lives, every argument we witness, every laugh we hear, is so much more than a moment, an argument, a laugh - those things are the inspiration that keeps us up late at night, pecking away at the keyboard, honing our brilliance so that one day, all our friends will say well, I knew him/her when . . .