Strange Wordings

Thoughts on fantasy, science fiction and genre writing in general . . . stuff that's strange.

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Location: Fredericksburg, Virginia

These Blogs are largely about the process of coercing words out of my head (at times I convince myself that I am a novelist). Thoughts about current reading and/or fantasy literature and writing in general may disgorge at random.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Writer’s Eye (and ear, nose, tongue and skin)

Been meaning to spatter this digital ink across my screen for a few days now; you know what it’s like, just getting to things that you mean to do. But, hey, maybe it’s better for the time to reflect.

I had to vote earlier in the week, had to in the sense that I’m a resident of Virginia, and by all accounts Webb needed every vote he could get. Let’s thank someone he got them. Anyway, that’s not the point; yes, there is a point here about writing. I had to vote and that means taking the Metro out to Clarendon and walking about six blocks to the community center. Out and back about twelve blocks, passing by a condo construction project each way.

Now, walking by the construction site, feeling good about being a dutiful citizen, I pondered on the sights and sounds and activities of the workers. A lot was going on, all over the place. I watched as I walked, them doing their things and me walking and watching.

Then I realized what I was doing. I was filing it away, the sights and sounds, what people were doing where and, maybe, why. I wasn’t looking at it like John Q. I was looking at the construction site with a writer’s eye, listening with a writer’s ear, cataloguing every detail to use when or if needed in a story.

And then I realized that I’d been doing the same thing a lot, perhaps most of my waking life these days. Experiencing life, to be sure, but also taking notes, as if I’d hired a tiny scribe to sit in my brain and log all sensory input for later access, analysis and exploitation. A formation of gauzy cloud scuttling across the sky? Check. The slow degradation of the dead pigeon between the tracks of my train station? Duly noted. Those flirtatious glances form that young, cute blond? Log updated, Sir!*

Now I see, hear, smell, taste and feel in two distinct modes. As the one who experiences, and as the one who observes. Has anyone else found themselves changed like this upon becoming seriously dedicated to writing?

*It’s possible I may have imagined that part but the inner scribe doesn’t care. It’s all experience.


Anonymous Paul Jessup said...

Oh yes- I've had the same thing happen to me, but quite a long time ago. Of course, I've been writing since I could remember- so maybe I just picked it up at an earlier age.

But doing this- you'll notice your memory for small details improve. Really stupid stuff, but it's the stuff that makes for great writing.

Just the nature of the beast. Of course, one thing I also started doing (and this was just recently, and connected to writing I think) is over analyzing things. Looking into what people say, probing things, getting into arguments with people for no reason other than to delve into the truth behind what a matter is.

I guess it's as Socratese said- the unexamined life is not worth living. And as writers, we constantly are examining everything.

6:12 AM  

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