Musings from Traci Borum -
writing teacher and newly-published author.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Words of Wisdom
One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Berg, just posted this on her Facebook page. It embodies so much about how I feel about writing. Brilliantly and beautifully stated:
much of writing is done when you're not writing. It's a hard thing to
explain to someone who isn't a writer. But today, for example, when I
was walking the dog, I imagined a scene I'll write later. It's January,
1831, and a carriage is pulling away from a country house in the heart
of France. A light snow is falling. The woman inside the carriage stares
resolutely straight ahead and her husband stands in the circular
driveway, his hands at his side, watching her go.
Doing the dishes,
I envision a mole at the corner of someone's mouth, the angle of a
kitchen chair at a table, the way the light falls on a bowl of apples.
When I'm supposed to be listening to someone in real life, an imaginary
conversation often tangles itself in with what they're telling me. I am,
as a result, kind of a terrible listener. (But I will always give my
guest the bigger piece of pie.)
Whenever I do interviews-- as I did yesterday in advance of the Santa Barbara Writers'
conference--and someone asks about my writing process, I find it
difficult to answer. It's not a process; it's how you are. I truly do
believe that writers are born, not made. If you're a writer, you're a
person with a habit of noticing, of being totally captivated by events
as small as the sideways drift of falling leaves, by the guy who tosses
pizza dough up into the air, by the woman in a kerchief waiting for a
bus. You have a need to translate what moves you or angers you or
inspires you or mystifies you, into words. You use what you write to
explain the world to yourself. Writing happens at the keyboard or on
the page, yes. So often, though, it also happens when you're pulling
weeds or watching the slow flap of a new butterfly's wings or tossing
cheese into your grocery cart or taking a shower. If you're a writer,
you sort of never stop working. You always have your invisible basket
on your arm, gathering, gathering gathering....