Friday, October 16, 2009


Sometimes I look in the mirror and see a stranger. Oh, I remember the familiar wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, the funny nose, and the willful wiry hair. It's the brain behind the face that throws me. Here, in the sunrise of my middle years, I'm wondering exactly who and what I am.

Two years ago, I saw my friend at a dance recital. She had a spiral notebook on her lap and while the rest of us were waiting for the performance to begin, she was in the shimmery-blue-watered world of the Caribbean, teetering on the edge of a cutlass with a pirate's future hanging in the balance. As my friend told me about her story, I had an epiphany. I don't know why the idea of being a writer seized my imagination as it did, but after it took root, I was a goner. Once I began having regular assignations with my desktop, these characters flowed out of me through the keyboard, like old acquaintances. I had carried these people around inside my head for all these years, refining them by garnering my own experiences, collecting knowledge here and there along the way.

What else is in there, hiding in my cranium? "Who are you really?" I ask my reflection. I don't know until I sit down at my desk and let myself out. My muse can be fickle, often waiting to show up until I've proved myself by suffering through lines and lines of less-than-inspired drivel. I don't always like the muse, but I am addicted to her inspiration. The unexpected flash of creativity flowing to the page from a source I can't identify is a rush unlike any other.

Okay, maybe I am exaggerating... Being loved and having someone to love is better. Hearing a little child whisper they think you're beautiful when you know you're probably not definitely outshines the muse. Surviving an out-of-the blue, nearly-fatal illness also has a way of kicking the damn muse to the curb.

But apart from the things we cherish most, there is a hunger we all have to be something more than we are. Writing fulfills that for me. It makes use of past pain, sadness, and grief. It channels dreams and happiness, winnowing all the ordinary magic from a lifetime. When I write, I draw on a metaphorical well that never needs replenishing because I am experiencing and living every moment and each beat of time adds to what I already have accumulated in that cistern of memory.

My husband and I took a vacation to New York City last summer. Just the two of us. We toured museums, walked in Central Park, watched a Yankee's game in the real Yankee Stadium, and fell in love with Harlem and the Lower East Side. I felt closer to my husband after sharing such a wonderful experience, and I look forward to our next adventure. We both felt different when we returned home, like we had lived more fully in that short time away.

Being an author is like our trip to the Big Apple. New discoveries in each thought. Another facet uncovered as I move forward with a storyline. I've come a long way in two years.

No one knows that better than I.

1 comment:

  1. I love it. Of course, I relate, so well. But I couldn't have said it as well as you...