Standing up

I was lost in my writing when my three-year-old barged into the room, asking me to play with her. My mind was still grappling with images, and it took a second for the frames in my mind’s eye to shift to and settle on the real world, where my daughter was already bearing down on the laptop.

I was sad to let my other-world go and felt guilty that I did (we mothers have an auto-guilt mode for whatever good or bad we do).

Then I remembered that my daughter fuels my writing. She gives me material. Playing with her is like priming the pump. So I stood up, remembering Henry David Thoreau’s words: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Life is my material, and I have to go find more of it.

We writers are always writing: when we look at someone, we are more likely storing in our mind how the neon lights play against his pallid skin, blue and pink against his forearm, or how the corners of her mouth twitch when she lies.

Perhaps we look at life differently. Part of us often step back and catalog an event taking place. Our being “in the moment” is lived thrice: once, when it happens; twice, when remembered; thrice, when reduced to words.

Catherine Drinker Bowen shares the same thought, “Writing, I think, is not apart form living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.”

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