Hello world!

The other morning I woke early – well before the sun – but I didn’t mind one bit because my sleepy half-awake brain was filled with wild imaginings of my current WiP. My main character, let’s call her C.H., was chatting away merrily; I had never heard her voice so clearly and distinctly before. She oozed with personality and uniqueness and as she narrated, the little corner where she lives came to life. It was evening and golden rectangles made by house lights were appearing and people were crowding into the house next door. I heard beautiful African singing in goosebumpy harmony and felt the cold damp settle in. I eavesdropped on conversations between C.H. and her mum. Mum was trying to work out what was happening next door; C.H. was pretending she didn’t have a clue, and so on …

It was brilliant. Delicious and fully formed. I call these pre-dawn imaginings my MORNING GLOAMINGS. Now, I know that there is no such thing as a MORNING GLOAMING and that the word gloaming refers to the early evening. But I love the sound of the word and to me it matches perfectly that magical time when the world hasn’t quite woken and my subconscious mind runs amok. So I’ve given the word my own meaning. I wonder if it will take off?

Anyhow, this particular morning my gloaming was the best for ages and I couldn’t wait for it to be light enough for me to whip out my notebook and record it in my daily papers.

But alas, as soon as I picked up my pencil, C.H.’s voice vanished with the night stars. I persevered and managed to retrieve a few lines, but they lacked the energy of the voice of my gloaming. I then tried to recreate the scene, but again it was lacking. Don’t you hate that?

Sometimes I wish I could plug some kind of retrieval device into my brain and capture my gloamings. Seriously, it is where I do my best work. But deep down, I know that even if there was such a device it wouldn’t really help. Because my gloamings are like movies. They show the whole picture: they are equipped with not only what is being said, but how it is being said – the intonation of the voices, the gestures, the body language. And the world around is alive, peopled and moving, with noises – traffic, wind, a door slamming – and sensations and smells and 360-degree vision. There are close-ups and long shots, panning and different perspectives. Sometimes there is even a sound track.

But when I go to write, I have none of these devices. I only have one tool to recreate the movie: WORDS.

Words can be a powerful tool, don’t get me wrong. But they require effort to harness them to tell the whole story. Maybe that is why they say writing is about rewriting. To capture C.H.’s voice I have to work hard at it. It’s there somewhere in my subconscious – I’ve heard it – I just have to listen and work at it. I need to sharpen my pencil and work at showing the whole picture too. To paint a vivid picture. To show the whole story. To make the movie into words. And that takes time and effort.

I guess no one ever said it was easy.

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  1. Jocelyn Hawes on said:

    Interesting thoughts, Sue. Perhaps you should have entered the conversation with CH and her mum or recorded your impressions instead of waiting for a pencil and paper. I’m sure, in time when you are gloaming again you’ll recapture the moment. Gloaming is a delicious word to use.

  2. Debra Tidball on said:

    Yes, yes and yes! You nail the experience every time, Sue! My Scared Book was conceived in the morning gloaming 🙂