Thursday, October 22, 2009

Snapshots in My Mind

Writers notice things. I often think we'd make good detectives. Whether it's the violet-green swallow colony flocking on a wire before they wing their way south, the exact color a tree glows red just before it drops its leaves in the first wintry blast, or the way a young soldier in the sandwich shop talks bravely about his deployment but won't look anyone directly in the eye. Writers notice things, and make mental snapshots of them, tucked away to use at a later date.

When my uncle found out I'd become a writer he said, "oh yes, that makes sense - you were always the quiet one." Quiet maybe, to the external world, but always watching, always jotting things down for later use in the back of my mind.

Just like photographers enjoy capturing and recording the moment in a photograph, just like artists enjoy portraying colors and feelings in all kinds of various media, writers capture moments, too. We save them in our minds, waiting for a later time when we attempt to describe them in our chosen media - words.

Recently, in the middle of a nice discussion, my mind wandered to a spider crawling on the wall. In a very short period of time the spider crawled up to the ceiling and halfway across. Yuck, some of you might be thinking. Squish him, get that spider out of there! (I almost never squish spiders. Usually I help them crawl onto a towel, walk them quickly to the front door, and then shake them off outside with good wishes for a nice life.)

But I was fascinated by this spider's journey, and my reaction to it, and kept thinking how I could use that in a scene. Perhaps one of my characters is having a nice discussion, a nice moment with someone, when she suddenly gets interested in a spider crawling along the ceiling. Does the person she is with get upset at her for not listening? Do they get in an argument over the importance of the life of a lowly spider? Does one of them stomp off, and everything in their relationship changes from that very moment?

I was not only watching the spider, but making up scenes in my head about it.

My mother bought me a cool sweatshirt that reads: Careful, or you'll end up in my novel. Maybe it should actually read: Careful, creative mind taking notes.
Do you take snapshots in your mind? What kinds of things do you notice?

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Eek! Spider!

Terrified of those things!