Susan Sontag said, “A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world.” And I agree. Everything from a piece of paper blowing in the wind to two people talking in a parking lot, a cruise on a ship or merely a tree. There is always an undiscovered mystery, adventure, intrigue or just plain simplicity lurking in the world, just waiting to be discovered.
It has always been my nature to observe the environment I am in at the moment. What do you get from that ? The use of your imagination in realms where others have yet to see.
You might ask, “What’s in a piece of paper blowing in the wind?” And Robert Frost would tell you in his poem A Patch of Old Snow…
There’s a patch of old snow in a corner
That I should’ve guessed
Was a blown-away paper the rain
Had brought to rest
It is speckled with grime as if
Small print overspread it
The news of the day I’ve forgotten
If I ever read it.
That’s saying a lot for a little piece of paper.
Two people talking in a parking lot, could be anything from two people going shopping for housewares to two people sitting in the parking lot of a supermarket where they got a field dressing of frozen peas and gauze to fix one’s hand, or two renegade angels discussing how to get back home. It all depends on the course your imagination chooses to run.
A cruise on a ship could invite many stories from Agatha Christie’s infamous whodunit, Death on the Nile, to the romance novel Lost at Sea by Alan Simon and Erica Bianco Ellis or one of my favorite childhood adventure mysteries The Bobbsey Twins on the Sun-Moon Cruise by Laura Lee Hope.
What do trees have to say? They speak in diverse voices since they were here long before us. The fascinating tree in the book of Genesis was there for mankind’s fall from grace. Generations have grown up on stories with trees as their centerpiece. Everything from Peter Rabbit’s burrow beneath a fir to Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest hideout, a somewhat dead tree that magically produced this huge peach for James. And no tree story would be complete without the Whomping Willow at Hogwarts.
Each of these paths can lead you to so many different facets of writing: fiction, non-fiction, mysteries, romance, science fiction, or poetry, take your pick. A blank canvas for any narrative that can be filled with so many palettes, technique variations through such a vast scope.
That is why, to me, a writer is a mind of infinite creativity that flourishes in any environment nourishing that thought process for a specific moment in time. And this would most definitely require paying very close attention to the world–rather real or abstract.
What do you think the definition of a writer is, in your own words?
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