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Friday, January 25, 2013


“Touch has a memory.”
John Keats
I love writing memories. LOVE. That sounds weird, yes, because a memory is an intangible thing. But memories are what separate humans from animals; they give our minds a linear quality, and provide us with this constant kaleidoscope of past sensations that come rushing back to us at times of unexpected provocation. People have memories both hideous and cherished, triggered by scents and sights. Because I'm seriously obsessed with fictional characters who feel like real people and not just vehicles for the writer's story, I think it's important for characters to have memories too. Because when the character recalls a touch, that moment in the past becomes concrete, and not just something the writer wants me to assume.
I like trying to bring memories to life, like this: "She remembered the night they’d made him – the frost on the windowpane, the smell of sandalwood soap and the taste of too-expensive wine on his tongue, the way everything had clicked and the world had melted away for a few perfect, preserved minutes that still reminded her of the brush of silk sheets against her naked skin even now." ~Fix You
And I like writing flashbacks, too, because sometimes I think it's important to "see" exactly how a certain piece of history unfolded.
Some people don't like flashbacks, and I understand that; they slow the narrative and can be hard to follow at times. But I love blending past and present because it's something very real and something that happens to me quite a lot.
For instance: last night, I walked past this picture of my very first horse Skip, who I had for fourteen years and who I lost about a year-and-a-half ago.
I was just passing through the kitchen and my eyes landed on the photo and all of a sudden, my hand remembered the slick feel of his new red spring coat - slick as seal hide. My nose remembered the warm, outdoor smell of horse that was his and his alone - you think I'm strange, but all horses have their own clean horse smell. I remembered the way he twitched his lip against my shoulder, asking for a carrot, and I remembered the coarseness of his forelock the last day of his life when I smoothed it across his forehead. I looked at the picture once, and a thousand memories - tiny, tactile things like the sound of his hooves on asphalt and the swish of his tail - went tumbling through my head and it was like I'd just left him down at the barn a few minutes before.
So yeah...I dig writing memories.

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