12 November 2007

Say it in words

Although it's Monday (blah) and the Mister is gone again (boo) and my sniffles remain (achoo), I am thankful that the internet is back in working order and that I have some energy. Yesterday was one of those drag-yourself-around days. All along my mind was trying to convince myself that I was fine, I was making it all up, really it doesn't feel like someone punched me all over, but of course the fact that I thought I needed convincing was evidence enough that my body wasn't its usual self.

Now that both my brain and the big brain (hooked up to the web we are) are allowing me to do so, I'd like to write about just that: writing.

I've been thinking recently about my tendency to write my life in my head. You know how sometimes people imagine their lives as movies, with a soundtrack? I imagine my life as a book, written in perfectly descriptive and beautiful phrases. Sometimes they're not even descriptive, sometimes just words that sound nice. But it would be a funny kind of book, not much of a page turner, because those phrases are all snippets of what I see, think, hear, feel, imagine... Readers would get SO bored. They would ask where the story went.

When my little nephew was starting to talk, and would sometimes revert to whines or cries in frustration or need, my sister would say to him: "Say it in words. Tell me in words." And that's the ultimate challenge, isn't it, big and little? To translate the precise look of an object, or the deep whine of a feeling, into words that can capture at least enough of them to communicate to others.

I sometimes wonder if it can be distancing, or a kind of defense mechanism. Am I experiencing this any less, living life less fully, because I'm trying to put it into words? Hard to say. I do know that I can deliberately use it as a distraction, but I also know that I probably couldn't stop if I wanted to. I guess it means I'm a writer. It doesn't necessarily mean I'm a good one, but it means that is who I am, living in words.

Say on the train I'm noticing the people around me. Or I'm walking outside and I try to describe to myself the exact way those leaves are arrayed. In my head I start trying to say with words what they look like, or imagine what they might be feeling (the people! not, generally speaking, the leaves). Sometimes it sounds like a crime scene report or newspaper article, sometimes like a poem, sometimes academic, sometimes like, well, a blog entry.

Here are some of the snippets that I can remember "writing" in my head this weekend. They weren't going to go anywhere, or probably even be written down unless some story happened around one of them to appear as a detail in a larger picture. I make no claims for brilliance. But they are a little portrait of me, this weekend, trying to "say it in words."

evening arrived fast, bringing the cold of winter with it

the spices smelled as bright as the color of the carrots, all simmer and steam in the pot

she thought nobody else on the train could tell she was crying, but the woman reading a magazine across from her was only pretending to read

that girl is a stocky Lindsay Lohan with a British accent

wet fall leaves the size of platters sunk into the mud, like starfish in the sand

they walked silently, and too carefully, as if they might break the air

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