Monday, November 2, 2009

The People We Are

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 . . .



Robyn Campbell said...

*clap, clap* Bravo my friend. And indeed you are right. Hmmm, is this a first? Ahahahahaahahahaaha

But right you are. Everything shapes us and our writing. When it makes us mad, it gives us fodder for the words we put on the paper. When it gives us joy, it elicits a thought-provoking response for the words we put on the paper.

The quote may or may not have helped me this weekend, but I'm going to put it near my computer and stick one in my laptop bag too. Everything does shape who we are as writers and who we are as people too. Super post, my friend. I'm glad and blessed to know ya! :)

Tess said...

I've been known to stew on an argument w/ my husband just to improve the fire of my writing.

hahah...not really, though he has accused me of it ;)

And, I'm angry about some of those horrible things, too. And others.

ElanaJ said...

Great job on Chapter 2121!

And things make me mad too. I'm so glad I'm not the only one that sees injustices and their blood boils.

Scott said...

Robyn - thanks. No, it's not the first. I'm always right . . . at least in my own, warped little world. Ha!

Tess - the world is full of things that make us angry. Too many things, if you ask me! While my blogging about them might not help the situation, at least it helps dispel some of my anger. Oh, and I've used a few real events (arguments, other things) in my writing a time or two . . . and no, I don't create the drama just to have something to write about. Well, maybe that one time . . .

Elana - thanks. Chapter 2121 was difficult, being more than 10,000 words long, but I finally finished. ; ) And, no, you're not the only one with boiling blood. There's a reason I don't watch the news too often. : )

Lady Glamis said...

Scott, this is beautiful. You have no idea how much this has touched me today. I really needed to read this.

Scott said...

Lady Glamis - glad I could help. You know, it's strange how such a disparate group of writers, blogging away, can sometimes find the right words to post on the right day to help out a fellow writer. I'm always awed, a little bit scared, when I read a post by a fellow blogger that seems directed especially to me, at a particular moment in my life. In another way, it's a great feeling to know there's such a great community out in the blogsphere that I can rely on to help me through the good/bad times of my life. : )