Friday, August 24, 2012

The Brain To Page Differential

When I was six my family moved to a forested home in Maryland, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The difference between the fields of trees that were now my back yard and the barbie-sized grass-plot next to our cement duplex on Sandia Airbase could not have been more dramatic. Sandia had well-planned, perfectly spaced umbrella trees that were manicured to within an inch of their leaves and only showed up when absolutely necessary. Maryland was The Hundred Acre Wood.

My forest-yard was a tree-packed, vine-filled, rambly, brambly thing, and I spent most of my Maryland years living in it. Samples of nature came home in my pockets and did time on window sills or rattled around drawers until they fell apart. One day I found the most perfect, perfect little treasure I'd ever seen: a pod of some sort--seed pod, I figured--that hung from a stick and looked as though Rumplestiltskin had spun it from gold. When I held it to the light it became translucent and glittered like filigree. It was magical. So I brought the stick home and gave it a place of honor on the kitchen windowsill. It nestled in a paper bag just small enough to display the pod--which dangled like a gilded drop of honey. Oh, I had found something special.

Two days later a shriek shattered the morning, followed by a ragged "Janiel!"  I pummeled down the stairs to find my mother in the kitchen, with white lips and a shaking finger pointing at my special sill. I remember my mouth falling open and feeling completely stunned. The pod was gone. In its place were thousands, thousands, of tiny little spiders with invisible legs and cheery yellow bodies, and they were crawling all over the window, down the walls, onto the floor, swarming the kitchen. My magical golden pod of wonder had been a spider egg sac. And the spiders were not my friends.

But Hoover was. And those stomach-turning little traitors were sucked up in five seconds flat. The stick and shredded egg sac were tossed in the outside garbage, and I stayed home and watched TV for the afternoon.

Writing is a lot like this memory for me. I find words, phrases, stories springing to mind, hanging like golden droplets of sunshine from spider's webs and branches, fluttering around my creativity until they have transformed from simple things into palaces and clouds, gilded roses and monarchic thrones.

So I write them down. And when they hit the page, they're just bugs.

I'm thinking my time would be better spent, as it would have when I was six, finding out what I'm looking at, learning how to treat it, doing research, and putting it in it's proper place. Not that dreaming is bad. Indeed, it is essential to any kind of creating. But I think it does need to be rooted in the environment that will properly sustain it. So I'm learning to dream, but with some discipline. Doing things at proper times, in proper places, and with the proper information. I'm adding a few of Sandia's umbrella trees to my unkempt forest. Hopefully by doing so, what is in my mind will retain its creativity and beauty while translating properly to the page. And the bugs can stay outside, where they belong.


Nicole Rowley said...

Ok. Now THAT is a funny story. I never found any spider egg sacs in Virginia.

Janiel Miller said...

Ah, they're probably only in Maryland. ;) Thanks Nicole!

RAD - Dot Painter said...

That was a great story! I'm visiting because of GUTGAA. I'm glad to have stopped by and connected with a great story teller.

:) Rachel Dillon

RAD - Dot Painter said...

I look forward to reading more of your work through GUTGAA!

Rachel Dillon

William Kendall said...

Oh, I couldn't help but laugh!

Janiel Miller said...

Rachel - thanks! Your GUTGAA event looks really cool. Unfortunately I won't be able to participate this time--I'm pretty sure anyway. But maybe next time. Have fun! What a great thing to do!

Janiel Miller said...

William - Yay! That was the goal. Even though there's nothing funny about 10 bazillion baby spiders . . .

Russo said...

Janiel, this is stunning, "I find words, phrases, stories springing to mind, hanging like . . ." I wanted to copy and paste it all to this comment section I loved it that much.

I love reading your adventures, you've lived everywhere under the sun and I think that's why your writing is so creative. You have lived life.