I’m tucked into my afghan, twisting a soggy tissue in my hands.
At the other end of this conversation is a very sympathetic listener. I find comfort in her soothing tone, wisdom in her words of encouragement. “We are born into a word of suffering,” she reminds me, “but even in the midst of darkness, there is Light.”
I’ve worked my way through this lesson before—many times, in fact—but it feels as if I’m learning it anew. I wipe my eyes, and when I thank her for this refresher course, we laugh together at the froggish rasp in my tired voice.
By the time we say our goodbyes, the pain is subsiding somewhat. But a small part of me is thinking: These aching sensations—grief, longing, fear—I can use them in my writing! In my mind’s eye, I’m witnessing my own responses, and I find myself wondering if I shouldn’t commit these things to paper while they’re fresh.
I reach for another Kleenex. And also? My gel pen and spiral notebook…
We writers are constant watchers, of ourselves and also others; like scavengers, we collect little glimpses of Daily Life for later use. We glean the sweetest, juiciest bits first, which we offer with delight to our eventual readers. But we also harvest the tragedies, picking through their moldering remains to find the shape and substance of our stories. Scriveners that we are, we sometimes jot several pages’ worth of observations into our notebooks at one sitting—a silo of ideas, squirreled away for leaner times.