You Had to be There

Through the writing process I had to learn to stop telling the story, and instead visually show each episode.  Describing, over telling, took a bit of time to incorporate into my writing.  Most of the works I’ve read over the years are telling by nature–straight non-fiction books, biographies, historical narratives and other factual stories of that nature. 

When making the change-over to creative non-fiction, description grew vital to relating an interesting and readable story.  In my head I started to imagine myself in the room, or within earshot of my characters.  That necessity required placing myself in rooms, houses, city streets, restaurants, and theaters I’ve passed through over time.  I visually remembered all sorts of tables, different kinds of flooring, from wood to tile, stage lighting to low lit lounges, to living room lamps, to garish lit repair shops.  My own images revived of my grandparents homes, apartments, and automobiles– my own romantic memories of brief visits to the tropics, and finally falling back on my training in American History.  I couldn’t seem to make anything up, the backdrop had to be real to me. 

I suppose I am re-inventing the wheel in this blog entry.  Or I’m admitting my limits as a writer.  George Lucas sure came up with that Death Star, Gene Roddenberry created Mr. Spock, JK Rowling evolved port keys and apparating.  Not me.  I have no talent to generate believable fantasy.  But that’s okay.  It’s been kind of cool to visit my grandmother’s tiny kitchen, and wearing ballet slippers again.  I hope that this authenticity comes through my writing in River of January.


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