Writing as a Catalyst

My previous post, Writing Shapes My Life, would never have happened if I had not found my creative drive and followed its road map.  Oh, I would have gone to the Banff Centre for my husband’s conference but I probably would not have written about it.  Because I love to write and have made this writing road my path I am constantly thinking of my world in terms of writing.  When I meet someone interesting I wonder if his or her characteristics might find expression in one of my characters.  I’ve found many new activities connected to writing such as taking courses and joining writing groups, and I enjoy a much larger group of writing friends than ever before.  In fact, one friend whom I met at a wedding and with whom I talked for hours would most likely have drifted into obscurity except that we share the same interests and periodically check in with one another.  (Writing the Undisciplined Mind)

The other night I went to an All Candidates meeting to try to figure out how to vote in our upcoming municipal election.  There I studied the way one man’s neck was hidden under rolls of pasty flesh which billowed up over his nondescript turtle neck sweater.   His face was dull, his eyes  downcast and his mousey brown hair and sallow skin did not invite.  Yet as he talked in a clear soft voice his eyes came alive and I heard his ideas.  Now I am going to vote for him.  Because I made myself study him as a possible future character for my books, I came to see the man behind the package.

Soldier at Fort Niagara

Forts, museums, libraries, national historical monuments all have given my husband and me many places to go to research and just to discover and enjoy.  Fort Niagara, Fort George, Fort Mississauga, and Fort Stanwix are but a few of the places we have visited.  Actually walking in the steps of my characters, real and imagined, stirs my imagination and excites my fingers when I sit back at my keyboard to write.  On a recent boat trip with friends to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial we met a retired school teacher whose enthusiasm and delight in her subject was absolutely infectious.  When we settled down to watch the movie she started, I am sure my interest intensified because of her.

People close to me have died.  My parents and two of my brothers.  Writing about these events was a tearful yet exhilarating experience.  It was one last thing I could do for each of them.  Of course, I had to wait a few months to let my thoughts percolate and my critical ear come back a bit.  Writing in these circumstances can be very emotional.  I wrote For Ross three months after his death and What’s in a Picture a few years after losing my mother; in fact, soon after I first started to blog.  Writing these memories was good at the time but even better now when I can go back and reread and re-remember my people.  Had I not been blogging I probably wouldn’t have written said pieces.

Finally, writing this blog is a catalyst.  It keeps me focused on my research and my writing.  Always I try to think of new topics which interest me and, therefore, might interest others.  The writing is the journey for me but, hopefully, all this writing will eventually lead to a whole string of published novels.  That’s the goal.  And while there are days that writing is a royal pain because I’m uncertain where to go next or because I’m still researching and not into my favorite part which is the actual keying in of words on my screen, I work on my writing website.  It was a gift from my computer whiz son for the day that first novel actually comes off the presses.


2 thoughts on “Writing as a Catalyst

  1. I do the same thing, Elaine. I watch people’s gestures and how they walk and move. I’ve taken a notepad to the park and just watched people. Even TV provides interesting character traits at times. As Julia Cameron says (Artist’s Way) we have to visit places we’ve never been to keep our creativity well filled.


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