This post is also part of “DigiLit Sunday,” hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. This week’s topic is Slicing Our Lives. Please be sure to visit Margaret’s blog to read more Digilit Sunday contributions.
“…trust me, I’m going to take you somewhere…”
~ Colum McCann ~
I love listening to writers talk about the origins of a story or poem. So often one random, ordinary moment becomes a magical trail through time and space that leads to a breathtaking piece of writing. For some reason, these recollections reassure me. Maybe it’s because my life seems so very boring and ordinary they give me hope that, if I pay close attention, I do have things to write about.
The harder task is finding the bigger truth in the small moment. In her speech accepting the Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses, Kate DiCamillo explains that writers “have been given the sacred task of making hearts large through story.” No pressure, right?
These thoughts were swirling through my mind this morning as my husband and I headed to a local diner for our weekly breakfast ritual. Sunday mornings are always busy and we usually have to a wait for a booth. Everyone waits patiently, striking up conversations with strangers about how cold it is or the UConn girls basketball team’s latest win. When we’re shown to our seat, I always face the door so I can continue to people watch. It’s a diverse crowd, with people from all walks of life sitting side by side, eating a meal.
Last week I watched an extended family celebrate a little boy’s birthday. His dad was a big, gruff looking guy, but I marveled at how tender and caring he was with his son. Today, a mom and dad talked and colored with their two small children while they waited for their pancakes. The scene seemed perfectly ordinary. And yet here were two parents, probably juggling many of life’s demands, spending time with their children, paying attention to them, and letting them know through their actions how much they care about them.
When writers sit down before a blank page or screen, we hardly ever know what insights will be uncovered. Maybe there won’t be any. That’s the beauty of writing. We’ll never find those truths if we don’t look for them. And so we return to the challenge each day. Seeking the right word. Searching for the perfect phrase or sentence, we lay down our thoughts. Like a chef choosing the perfect ingredients for a recipe, we strive to shape our thinking into something worthy and nourishing. It’s our way of telling our readers how much we care about them.
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, Lisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.