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You are ALWAYS a writer May 18, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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I have been away recently. I had a trip abroad with my wife. Some time in Hawaii and some time in Disneyland. The holiday was completely awesome.

A conversation was had while skipping around merrily in Disneyland. I can’t remember the exact impetus for this conversation but it had something to do with the battery on the camera going flat, so we  couldn’t take photos. Because the camera wasn’t working we weren’t photographers? Something like that?

My wife is a photographer. She is about to have photos published in a book. We went to Disney for two days, the first day was to go crazy, the second day was to come back with her big camera to take some good shots with the good camera. All day on the first day she was taking notes which shots she wanted with her big camera.

In the same way, I was taking mental, and actual, notes on names and areas and the feel of the place, particularly Frontier Land. My steam punk stories will have an element of the unexplored/wilderness about them, and I really enjoyed soaking up the ambiance of a replicated frontier town. It gave me some idea of how I would like to set mine up.

So here we were, my wife taking notes on what she wanted to come back and take photos of and me enjoying the ‘research’ of Disneyland. So when the conversation arose about not being a photographer without the camera I said no, you are always a photographer. You always see things you want to take pictures of, you look at the world in a certain way and usually have a camera with you all the time to take pictures. Even if you do not have a camera you are thinking of ways to sell pictures, lay out zines and such like. You are always a photographer.

In the same vein I am always a writer. YOU are always a writer. You see things, over-hear conversations, hear names, feel something and that will make its way into your writing. Writing is not always about putting the pen to the page or the fingers to the keyboard. It is about experiencing things and then bringing that experience into your work.

I know the saying that to be a writer you need to write, but I believe that is not entirely true. Certainly if you just experience things and get ideas and not write them, then I would say you’re not a writer. More perhaps a dreamer. But the other side of a coin, for me is, if you do nothing but write all day, nine to five, then I think you are not a total writer. You need to be engaged as a writer 24 hours a day. Yes, this can include sleeping and dreaming.

I was taught to carry a note pad and pen with me where I went and I believe this is what lead me to feel that writing is being a writer ALL the time, not just when you are tapping away at the keyboard.

While we were in Hawaii, on the Big Island, we noticed that the main highway which runs the length of the west coast, is set up and above a lot of the residents below, averaging 1000 ft elevation. You need to get off the highway and go down the hill to get to the ocean. And when you’re almost there you are given warnings that you are entering a Tsunami disaster zone. It gave me ideas of a caste system, where the rich live up above the poorer folk, possibly with gates and walls to seperate them.

When we were at the Mauna Loa Volcano, on the Big Island, there was an educational film about how the Hawaiian Islands were formed, with gradual tectonic movement over a hot spot. As I am currently world building this became fascinating to me. I made a comment to my wife saying- you realise I am taking all this information in for my world building. SHe nodded and said-  I know. You’ve been doing it all vacation, I can tell.

Always a writer.

And, in a nice little piece of spooky, I received this blog update from the Clarion Blog about ‘making mountains. ANd look there, there is a piece about Hawaii and the hot spots.’

So, you are always a writer, a photographer, a poet, a song-crafter. If you are sitting on the couch watching the nightly news, it could be a piece to be included in the murder-mystery you are writing. They could have framed that shot better. It could be part of a tragic modern-day take on a classic poem, or the trigger for a song. Something. It can be SOMETHING, for you as a creative person.

Keep your mind open to the world.

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