Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On Age and Subject Matter...

I had the privledge of participating in a workshop with Dasan Ahanu this past weekend at the Methodist University Southern Writer's Symposium.  The workshop was fun and interesting for me as a writer, butI found myself facinated by the student response. There were several students there--most grateful to have been lured by the promise of extra-credit from their various teachers--and several willingly, even excitedly, participating. 

After we would do an exercize, Dasan would ask people to volunteer to read. Or, as we prepared to do an exercise, he'd ask people for images or things or ideas.  I was thrilled by how very much the students responded. And I was facinated by what they had to say. When I was their age (in high school or early college so many years ago I hate to even think it) and I thought about writing, I found writing profound. I thought that people should write about IMPORTANT THINGS like justice, women's rights, poverty, love, philosophy, God ... you know, stuff that important, long-dead people have written about. And this was one of the reasons I thought I probably couldn't be a writer. The thought of writing about my own life, the little things in it, seemed trivial and silly and not particularly worthwhile. 

As the students read their work, I noticed that they seemed interested in the things that I had been interested in then, too. One student wrote about God and his (the student's) own perfection and imperfection. Another wrote about the power of the written word.

I wrote about cold wood floors, warm blankets, and the DVR remote.

I wrote about the little things that reminded me, in the space I loved, of the people I loved. And it was small and sweet and utterly, utterly personal. But now, I didn't think it was trivial anymore. It filled me with emotion that I couldn't work up, but wanted to, when I was younger about big, philosophical things. 

And it occured to me that maybe this is normal. Maybe as I'm not getting any younger (I hesitate to say getting older, 'cause it scares me), it's the here and now that I find most facinating.

I think this does translate into my own writing of fiction. I'm more facinated by the small moments that fill our lives--the little evils we do to each other or the little graces we give to each other--than by the big events. Sure, the big events (and the Big Bads) are so necessary in Urban Fantasy, and they're fun, too.  But the story is so much more than that big event.

It's the small things, the seemingly mundane, that make all the difference, both in my life, and, I think, in my fiction.