Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sun-dried hair and writing novels

I dried my hair in the sun yesterday. Not exactly front-page news, but it was a moment that gave me fodder for writing novels. I’m of the no-moment-wasted camp of writers who tuck memories and ideas into my head like a robin picks up string and scraps for her nest.

Drying my hair in the sun was a gift—time to sit and be still and enjoy a truly simple pleasure. The day captivated me with birdsong and sunshine and newly blossomed hollyhocks resting against the fence.

Other than sitting poolside or on a beach, drying my hair via sunshine is something I haven’t done in decades. I’m usually mindful of schedules or errands or tasks to complete, so I pull out my trusty dryer and blast my hair until it’s dried and tamed into something resembling a style.

But yesterday I left my dryer on the shelf and stepped outside. While I enjoyed the gentle embrace of morning sun, I thought of other simple moments that are locked inside my heart—moments that symbolize something precious, pure, and sweet. Moments that can be incorporated into fiction.

My sentimental journey transported me to times in my childhood when I was unrushed and without a schedule. Like when my mother would urge me to sit outside and let the sun dry my hair. Like moments spent clutching crayons and scribbling in a coloring book beside a blue northeast lake while listening to water lap against a wooden dock and blue jays squawking in spicy pine trees.

Like that one time I can never forget when my auntie took me for a walk, and we came upon a stream that tripped over moss-covered rock as it journeyed downhill toward a valley. My aunt told me to take off my sneakers and walk down the “stairs” that were covered with soft, thick water-sod. I can still recall the feeling of icy water clutching my ankles as I walked like a fairy princess down a magical staircase.

Using these actual moments aren’t as important as making the reader associate with the pleasure extracted from the moments. My readers may never have walked down a wet, mossy staircase, but they have enjoyed a pure, simple pleasure, and that’s what I want to make them feel when I write a scene.

Do you have any special moments from your past that make you recall the wonder of childhood?

1 comment:

Jackie said...

I got my bike tuned up and new tires and went for a bike ride with my husband. It was wonderful. It brought back memories of how much I loved riding my bicycle when I was growing up.
I enjoyed your post!