Monday, July 12, 2010

The Writer's Eye

Writing prompts from friends and mentors sometimes do the job. But what triggers a writer if his prompts must come from within? What I want are more sparks, more flint applied to steel, drawn from my own insights and not the prompts of others. Years back I photographed villagers in Pakistan and across Africa. That passion had me seeing the light in everything; the yellow light at dawn, roseate tones at sunset, the bruised purples of a lingering dusk. Light, evanescent light, invisible until it slices sideways through new foliage or maybe buttercups. Until it graces an old woman’s profile, telling her life story in lines and shadows. I was a danger to my friends back then, prone to slamming on the brakes without warning – “Look at that light, will you?”

As a writer, how can I find those special themes that make me want to hit the brakes and cry, “Did you see that?” It takes a searching soul, wandering through life with wondering eyes, always in learning mode. It takes experience, to know the contrast that points to something rare, to find garnets in the sand. It takes words enough to frame the nuance, capturing life’s butterflies in ways not seen before. Only those who live fully immersed in life can write of love from having loved, of loss from being sucked into its vacuum. I long to capture life, to hold it there inside a latticework of words, each meant to burnish memory. I yearn to share my special insights with you, my intimate stranger, my reader. That, my friend, is goad enough to drive me on, searching for the story lines of life.