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Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Writer's Eye

As all writers know, there's a thing called "writer's eye". All those who write know this phenomenon well, but to the non-writers, a bit of clarification may be in order. 
Let's begin. A journey. Into the deep, dark place where nightmares are born.

1. When something unexpected happens, time seems to slow down. For ordinary people, the instant moment of an accident happens within seconds. For a writer, the seconds it takes to get your car wrapped up around a tree seem like a decade. Usually, when you have an accident, the details of it are erased from your memory. It's the way the human mind works: to spare itself from trauma, it removes things that could be regarded as harmful. 
When a writer has an accident, all of its details are eternally trapped in his/her memory. 
That is what the writer's eye is all about: we see things that flee others, experience things that escape you. We live deeper, and are eternally tormented by the things we see. 
Or at least until we write them out. 

2. We look at others differently. Where you see features, clothing, expressions, we see behind it all. We look at others, squint our eyes like cats often do, and try to see beyond the exterior. We like to look at the real you, the you hidden behind clothes and make-up and accessories, the things you think you keep hidden. The nightmares you have, the memories you hide, the stories you have to tell. 
To a writer, a stranger passing by on the street is a story, not a faceless fellow-human. To us, you are all important. To us, you are all words to share, memories to write, beauty to capture for generations to come. 
To a writer, everything has value. Even the smallest detail can hold the greatest importance. The way you pick up a penny, the way you throw back your head and laugh, the way your eyes darken when someone mentions a word that takes you back to your youth. 
To a writer, everything you do is a story. 

3. When something is about to happen, we sometimes see it in advance. You pour milk into a mug, turn, and just before your elbow hits it and sends it flying to the floor, we cry "nooooo", and make a desperate attempt to catch it. Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don't. If you live with a writer, don't push them off as they're making an unexplained leap for something you can't see. There's something there, and the mad leap may save you from cleaning up the floor. 
Or something worse. 

4. As the writer's eye has a tendency of messing with the imagination, writers tend to panic a bit easier than the so-called ordinary people. We see the possible consequences of your actions, we know what may happen if we say the words struggling to be freed, if you take one more drink, if your hand reaches for that piece of cake located just beyond that container of juice. We know what will happen, we can tell. And the consequences terrify us. To us, the smallest symptom is the beginning of something deadly. 
We feel beyond this world, these containers of the soul. We feel the future, taste it, and it leaves us trembling in fear and exhiliration.

5. We remember everything. Every word you've said, every piece of clothing you've worn, every time you've frowned. Forgetting is difficult when your mind wants to turn every moment you've ever lived into a story. So, we don't. Instead, we store all the details of our lives into our minds, and if we don't get the chance to write it all out, it starts to suffocate us. 
When we write, we breathe out the lives we've breathed in watching it all pass us by. 
When we write, the world around is lost and forgotten, and another struggles to be born. 

6. The process of writing varies greatly between writers. One thing, though, is common to us all. 
When writing, we stare through the paper or screen, and see not the words pouring out, but a world beyond this one. It's like dreaming while you're wide awake, falling into a rabbit hole. 
Don't poke us while we write to see if we're still alive. Don't come in asking if we'd like a refill on coffee. 
Don't bother us, you'll break the spell. 

7. No writer writes because he/she wants to. We write because we have to. Stories in our heads demand attention, and if we don't give it to them, they drive us crazy. 
If you've ever had a writing woman throw dinner plates at you after you've asked them what they were thinking about when buying that super-sexy dress, you'll know what I mean. 
Writing is our heroin. We need our daily fix, and if we don't get it, bad things happen. 
A writer is only happy when a story is flowing out smoothly, without force or effort. Sadly, it happens only so often. 

The writer's eye is a peculiar thing. Somehow, it isolates us, makes us watch the world turn around us, dotting down all of its petty details. And somehow, it allows us sights no mortal man has ever seen. 
Being a writer is most times a painful, awkward existence, but when the story runs like a river... 

Love, 
Heather

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