Writing has taught me a lot, but the coolest thing I’ve learned since I’ve started writing (book, poetry, and the Proof blog) is the awe-inspiring power of observation. I’ve been writing even before I began actively observing others and the world around me, and I can attest that your work becomes worth reading if it portrays real life rather than if it what you think real life is.
I don’t mean that memoirs are the only awesome literature. Or that you should Hemingway your WIP.
There can still be contented endings, beautiful people, and even happy coincidences. Those things do happen in real life (though they are few and far between, and for the love of Rufus, don’t be annoying with them, please.)
This is what I mean:
There is no way I can create a character that isn’t like me if I don’t open my eyes and my heart and soak in other people. Invest in them. SEE them for all they are—a perfect swirl of chaos and beauty. Experience them, empathize with them, take their humanity and roll it around in my head for a while until I UNDERSTAND something integral, and why it’s there.
(This also applies to setting, in my opinion.)
I’ve had to do this first with me…and I didn’t always like the images I saw. (I still look inside for understanding because I just haven’t gotten to the bottom of my crazy.)
I don’t know if it’s this stage in my life or if I have writing to thank for this deep soul-diving. Probably a combination of both? But I’m so thankful because more than writing better, observing and internalizing has become imperative to living better.
It embeds in me the worth of who or what has my attention. And that breeds respect.
I imagine the soul is like a spider producing web; I press my hand into the other person’s, and they share with me a silver thread. I tie the end to my own strand…and, there. We are connected.
(Places are kinda like that, too.)
[This tiny, crab-like spider is way less scary than the other picture I took, so…You’re welcome.]
This path—writing, observing, connecting—has made me grow up…and out. I digress sometimes, but ultimately I remember the joy and find my way again.
Truth Bomb: It can hurt sometimes, what you see. Don’t let it stop you.
Are you writing real life from a point of understanding? If you’re not, shouldn’t you be? (This is rhetorical, unless you don’t want it to be.)
Have you discovered your observational superpower? Has it changed your life, too?