Friday, May 20, 2011
Spring Has Sprung!
We nonfiction writers tend to live more in the real world than in the world of the imagination. I know I feel very grounded in place, wherever I am, and I’m experiencing what goes on around me—the sun, or not; the breeze, or the heavy dense air; the soft forest path under my feet or the hard concrete sidewalk. Roz Schanzer expressed this feeling very well in her recent blog about her Costa Rican photo safari. At times, like during a drab, hard winter, our way of being so intimately in touch can be perhaps more difficult than for those who can escape into their heads with flights of fancy.
But when spring finally does break, as it did just a week ago at my home in Montana, the natural perception and appreciation of the real becomes an energizing joy. With a bedroom window open, my house soaks up the amazing smell of spring—of growth, life, fruit trees in bloom, whatever goes into that heady concoction that proclaims, “Spring is here!”
I haven’t discussed this idea with my fiction-writing friends, and maybe I’m wrong; maybe they find a gray, cold winter just as oppressive as I do. It depresses my creative juices, and nonfiction writing is a creative art, as we nonfiction writers struggle to recreate the real world through words invented by humans. We struggle especially hard to describe sensations like smell and taste, for which our language has few useful words. And when I see the amazing variety of color and size and shape in natural beings like these flowers in the garden of my friend, I’m overwhelmed by the idea that I might even try to express their beauty and variety in mere words. Then I remember that doing is not only my job, it’s my passion and my great challenge.