“I have found when I tried or looked deeper inside/ What appears unadorned might be wondrously formed.” ~ Carrie Newcomer, “Geodes”
I reached a point today in revising where the story just opened up; it let me in. I always talk about finding the heart of the story, the place where it sings. I caught a hint of that melody today. I’ve always known it was there in this story. My main characters, Zoe and Blake, are the kind of people who’ve had to keep a lot of their emotions and struggles on the inside. Zoe in particular isn’t good at being vulnerable and letting anyone in. Yes, sometimes me included. So when the story opened up tonight, even if I don’t have the plot hammered out, I found the haunting music of their story.
And isn’t looking inside, looking deeper, what being a writer is all about? Journalists dig for facts; poets search for images in the everyday. Storytellers, we’re all searching for heart, for meaning. Our characters change during the course of the story. But so does the writer. I don’t think I’m the same person at the end of the story as I am at the beginning. I’ve always known the characters change, the story changes, the words on the page are changed again and again. But the personal transformation of the artist. I’ve known it was there. Tonight I’m very aware of how my characters and their tale are affecting me–not just as a writer, but as a person.
I’m almost afraid to say it. It’s like a dream that might slip back into the fog; a butterfly landing on an outstretched hand. I don’t want to scare the story away. But it’s those moments that remind me why I’m a writer. They remind me of the kind of person I am. Someone who’s always looking for meaning in the world around me. Not larger-than-life meaning. But the things that give life meaning. A grandmother’s kitchen. An old love letter. An inside joke. A place that brings back a hint of a memory we can’t quite recall.
I’ve been told I like “sad” things. My husband just mentioned it today, as we were listening to the song above. Sad songs, sad books, sad movies: He’s not the first one to say it. Which I find odd, because I don’t think I like sad things. I love beauty. I love things with spirit, and meaning, and depth. I like to look down into the deep places of my soul. That’s where art comes from. That’s where love comes from.
Yes, I, too, have found that what appears unadorned might be wondrously formed. The simplest words can make magic when they come together in just the right way. A few brush strokes can make us feel something we can’t even identify. The perfect image can break us and make us whole at the same time.
The story I’m writing has a long way to go. Some days I’ll feel in tune with it. Other days I might feel as though I’m trying to pick the lock or use a battering ram to break in. Somewhere inside is the place where my characters are changing. And finding that place, I think, will change me as well.
Here are some of the lyrics to “Geodes,” if anyone is interested:
Some say geodes are made from pockets of tears,
Trapped away in small places for years upon years.
Pressed down and transformed, ‘til the true self was born,
And the whole world moved on like the last notes of a song,
A love letter sent without return address.
You can’t always tell one from another.
And it’s best not to judge a book by its tattered cover.
Now I don’t open them to see folks ’round here just like me,
We have come to believe there’s hidden good in common things.
You can’t always tell but sometimes you just know.
What about you? Have you found any hidden good in common things lately?