While gathered around the fireplace at Sir William MacKenzie Inn, we spoke a lot about many things. A number of which struck me with ‘Ah-Ha’ moments. The first of which is that, believe it or not, a lot of the writing process isn’t just about putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, it’s about talking. Talking about the process, talking about research, and just talking to others writers and finding out you aren’t alone in your writing insecurities and difficulties.
I strongly recommend any writers, new or not so new, to find a community, a writing circle, a critique group or just a bunch of people who love books. These people are invaluable. They are your point, counter-point, your devil’s advocates, a set of fresh eyes that will allow you to see a scene from a different angle, or just see things you may have missed. A good example of this, was while we were reading little snippets of our writing, some of the feedback would make me (and the other writers) say, “ummm… ya, I meant to be that deep”. Like it or not, and I struggle with this concept, a lot of writing is intuitive, and you may not realize the impact or complexity of what you’ve written until that fresh set of eyes or ears catches it and brings it to your intention. That revelation opens doors to new ideas.
This brings me to the second thing from the Turning Leaves Fireside Sessions, a lively discussion about the ‘Writer’s Eye’. Whoa! What’s this? I asked. Sounds like something out of a Marvel comic book, Dr. Strange then tapped the power of his mystical writer’s eye and lo, new worlds were born. Suddenly my attention was galvanized. Might I too have said Writer’s Eye?? Well, turns out I do and I’ve been using it all along. Go figure!
The Writer’s Eye is just a way of looking at things differently, seeing the magic in the mundane. It’s noticing the details, seeing the stories, or even seeing your characters come to life in a particular landscape or peculiar gait, or speech patterns of a passing pedestrian. It can also see darkness on a sunny day. It can be guided and once you know it’s there, it can be a great tool, but it can also run amuk. Amuk, amuk, amuk.
Here’s where mine comes in. Right now, it’s poking around in the dark corners of the human psyche. It’s frolicking in the baseness of the human condition and yet as disturbed as that may sound, it is finding little bright points, like the diamond hidden within the lump of coal waiting for someone to just give it a chance to prove it is more than just coal. You know what? I just can’t get enough of it! Sure it can be as skittish as a spooked horse and finding that gem hidden within can be hard work, but the end result, the power of that story, is worth it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some spelunking to do. Hi Ho!