Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Experiencing Life at its Fullest

(Would you believe this is my 100th post? It feels weird!)

Writers, I believe, have a special way of experiencing life. I, at least, no longer blitz through it without paying attention. Ever since I put the first word on a page and attempted to describe a scene, I discovered a new facet of life.

I had to see, smell, taste and touch everything. It's as if someone turned up my perception button one day. I have to feel the world and understand it.

Everything can be material. People talking on the bus. A strange customer at my grocery. The rich smell of fresh croissants. The super sweet candies I eat by the dozens on Thursday evenings. The foul smell of sulfur in my labs. There are no exceptions.

I realised this more fully last weekend, as I hiked through a forest with snowshoes. It's winter and most birds are gone. The forest was silent safe for our steps. The day was hot and snow melted, falling from the branches and to the ground. I stopped to listen. My boyfriend was a bit confused at first but when I motionned for him not to talk, he knew right away. I was doing this writer thing.

And then in the middle of a winter forest, I heard the strangest of sound. A fire crackling. It was the melted snow from the trees touching the still cold ground. Admist the tall pine, with not a human being in sight besides of us, it was magic.

I recorded this in a little part of my brain, which stores peculiar experiences for future descriptions. I'm not sure I would have stopped to listen four years ago.

When we started walking again, the sound of our snowshoes crushing the snow covered the crackling. I knew it was there, however, and I was glad I'd stopped.

The writer in me did it. I never loved him more.


  1. I know what you mean. Sometimes when I'm reading a book and an author describes something (example: ...it made a sound like tape being ripped from paper). That's a bad example but whenever I see things like that I wonder, did the author make that sound so they could describe it? Obviously everyone has read tape being ripped from paper before but I always envision the author sitting at their desk and repeatedly making the sound just so they can describe it better. And I want to do things like that too just so I can get my point across better.

  2. Congrats on the hundredth post!

    I remember hearing when I was a kid that writers are supposed to be more observant (Harriet the Spy, anyone?), but I think I tended to be in my own little alien and monster-filled world than making observations, but I guess some part of my brain was paying attention to the real world as well, those descriptive details make it into my stories somehow...

  3. Yes, congrats on 100 posts. That is a feat.

    And I so relate to your day in the woods. My family is used to my odd behavior by now. I'm always wanting to savor things and collect mementos to remind me of places so I can write about them later.

  4. The Unchosen: I have produced sounds repeatedly so I could best describe them. I've also stared at hundreds of pictures to get a feel of the place.

    L.G., Cacy: Thanks for the congrats! I don't know for you, but I've also been on the lookout for particular expressions and turns of phrases I find funny and original. It'd be more useful if people around spoke English, but heh... Still a lot of fun!

  5. I've done lots of things in order to be able to write them better, so I totally understand where you're coming from. Last year I took a trip to Indiana and went hiking through completely abandoned sections of a national forest in order to experience the same location my character's experience in The Wilds. I traveled several states away just so I could scout locations and capture the exact color of the trees that grow there and listen to the local accents and capture the culture of the tiny towns around the forest.

  6. What a nice story. I remember the sound my boots made when I was walking over packed, but soft snow on my way to class when I went to college in Cleveland. Because I was from Florida, I had never seen snow until I got there. I loved everything about it. Now I miss it.

  7. Suzanne: I love snow. Over here we get it every winter, which means a lot of folks can't stand shoveling it out of the entryway anymore, but I'm still in love with the white stuff.

    Sommer: That's awesome! This summer I want to fly in a hot air balloon if I can afford it. A lot of White Echoes' plot involves flying. This is the perfect excuse to try!