Before you ever wrote one word, firstly, you were an observer. An observer of: your parents; your siblings; your pets; your classmates; your friends; your co-workers; and a plethora of strangers who came and went as suddenly as they appeared. Ultimately, you were an observer of life – all of its shortcomings and triumphs.
Some of you may have embraced being an observer early on, quickly transferring the events and activities of your existence into short stories, poems and even cringe-worthy diaries. Others may have observed early life without the need to record their thoughts on paper, maybe waiting for inspiration to hit later in life, perhaps in college or at the start of a career. Still others, may have gotten lost in the monotony of life and failed to continue practicing this inborn characteristic, as that of an observer, we all once shared. If you’re a part of the last group, I urge you in some way, to get back what once added insight and personalization into the communal here and now. In the process, it will no doubt help ignite what’s hibernating deep within you…your all-important imagination.
Last summer, I got a dreaded letter in the mail, informing me I was being called to jury duty. Of course, my response upon seeing the words on the paper was typical – dread and disdain seeped from my pores at the thought of fulfilling this Civic Duty. Little did I know at the time when I received that letter, my stint as a juror would turn out to be useful… even productive! Standing under the large stone columns in front of the courthouse, I morphed into the epitome of what a juror is; an observer. I watched the comings and goings of lawyers and clients, the interactions of jurors with each other and the scurrying feet of journalists. My imagination took hold of these observations and later my hand began to write the re-worked opening to my then nearly finished novel, Naming the Bits Between. It was an opening scene the book desperately needed and one I would not have imagined without experiencing first-hand those timely observations as a juror, all while performing that dreaded task of Civic Duty.
To me, observing and writing go hand in hand. It seems all too important to jot down what you see, when you see it. It can even be fun to go back and re-live the world how your former (younger; naïve; dare I say stupid!) self may have seen it. You may even get a good chuckle at your ingenuous thoughts and views, wishing your current self could reach through the pages and set your prior immature thinking straight. So, in the New Year ahead: observe, observe, and when you think you’re done; observe some more. Then write, write, and when you think you’re done, write (and always, edit) some more. Whether you journal, blog, write fiction or non-fiction books (or all of the above for the over-achievers out there…you know who you are!) get writing and typing. Write for: The You from yesterday; The You of today; and The You of tomorrow (just remember – this last one can’t wait to set the naïve thoughts of the current You straight).
The bottom line is…observe and write! Write so that your own, personal, unique observations, are out there for the world to read. And, just as importantly, read! Read, so you can learn different perspectives as they have been recorded by other observers!
Photo By Flavio Takemoto