Saturday, April 10, 2010

Inspiration in likely places

It's often the simple things that make for a good story. I forget that sometimes when I read too much flowery prose from the Can Lit Canon or digest the advice of a poorly dressed writing teacher. But today, as I sit at our retro dining room table typing out my grandfather's diaries, I remember what makes me fall in love with a story. I don't even know if there's a word for it. It's more of a feeling I get. A sort of calm and a smile that happens when I turn each page. It's a gift for me as a writer to reconnect with words at their most basic and meaningful level. And it's a gift for me as a granddaughter to read the thoughts of the man I mostly remember as not remembering me.

Here's a page from his five-year diary that says so much without saying much at all:

MARCH 23

Wed. 1949:

Thurs. 1950: Forgot wedding anniversary. Sent bouquet of flowers next day.

Fri. 1951: Good Friday and our wedding anniversary, which I forgot. For which I don’t forgive myself. Was a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed staying with family.

Sun. 1952: Spent quiet day around home. Took Mary to Sunday School. She is still very shy and won’t stay alone.

Mon. 1953: To-day is our wedding anniversary. Gave Myrtle pair of bedroom lamps but were not right colour. Snow going fast. Have hired Dutch girl.

An uneventful day. A forgotten anniversary. And another. And another (likely). Trying to get it right and a mysterious Dutch girl.

One day. Five years.

This stuff, more than any writing workshop or prize-winning novel, this makes me want to write.

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