I have been busy with visiting family and, of course, the quarrelsome neighbors. It is reported that Paul Newman has a sign above his fireplace that reads “Everyone that comes here brings happiness: some by coming and some by leaving.” My neighbors fit into the latter category, my brother and his wife definitely the former.
But on with the blog and my subject for today.
I think I’m an accidental writer. I never thought consciously to myself, I’m going to be a writer. My daughter, who is one, knew that is what she wanted to do since she was about ten-years-old. She did several things in between but has returned to that vocation in her thirties as a reporter for AP..
And I never thought, I have a great story to tell. It sort of crept up on me in an odd way. As many of you know my husband and I moved to Costa Rica. At first we spent six months here and six months working in the States to pay our bills. Call us slackers or call us lazy if you want, but we wanted an interesting and full life before retirement, when, it occurred to us, we might be too old to enjoy it. It also crossed our minds that we might not even make it to any official retirement age–life being an unsure gamble. So we went.
In the course of our time here I began writing to family and friends back “home,” although after several years of living here, “here” began to feel more like home than “home.” These emails of mine began to evolve into regular chapters of our lives, building a house and the many trials and tribulations of living in a foreign country. I now have over 100,000 words of memories filed away.
Now comes the question: what to I do with all this material?
I think one of the most difficult things to do, as a writer, is find the central theme to a book. I have a feeling this is true regardless of whether one is writing fiction or nonfiction. What is the trunk from which all the branches of the story grow? I find I have an enormous pile of branches and a ton of leaves, but as of yet I have not figured out the trunk of the story.
This has not deterred me from continuing to write, which is a good thing. And perhaps the message will be delivered to me in an epiphany someday, a bit like the Magi, but I doubt it. And “Epiphany” is a pretty lofty word to be throwing around here. Perhaps the word “insight” would be better. As I read recently: “‘Epiphany’ is not the sort of word that one hears on ESPN or reads in the New York Times. If you were to tell a friend, ‘I had an epiphany,’ he or she might reply, ‘My Uncle Ralph had one of those, too, but his doctor removed it and he’s doing fine now.’ ‘Epiphany’ means ‘an appearance’ or ‘something revealed.’ An angelic visitation would be considered an epiphany. The car keys you misplaced after last year’s office party would not.”
Okay, so I suppose I could use the word epiphany here, but insight will do for now. And getting back to my point, if it’s anything like the rest of writing, what I am dead sure of is that it will require hard work and perseverance on my part; seeing past the individual pieces to some greater whole, a bit like the alphabet from found objects.