Do you remember the way you felt the first time you visited a new place? Somewhere beautiful, or interesting, or so new you could hardly bear it. Do me a favor, and think about that place for a moment; really think about it. Conjure it up in your mind until you can see every detail, taste the scent of the air in the back of your throat, hear the small sounds that are everywhere.
Isn’t it wonderful?
My memory is the first time I visited the mountains. I must have been eight or nine and my family and I had gone to a Suzuki music camp in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina. It was early October, and the leaves were just beginning to blush red and gold (which for me, being from Florida, was quite a novelty). After the camp was over, we drove up to Chimney Rock, and along with my younger siblings, hiked up to the top of the mountain.
Writing is all about cultivating wonderment, for me. I want my readers to be appreciative of my aesthetic sensibilities, of course, but more importantly, I want them to feel wonder when they read my words. I want to conjure up that unalloyed, naive awe you cannot help but feel while experiencing a new place or a new sensation.The air was crisp and bright, with a hint of evergreen and loam, and the trees whispered and chattered in a playful breeze. I saw a chipmunk, and was astounded that the adorable creatures existed outside the imaginary world of Disney. I stood at the summit and stared all around at the quilt of green and gold dotted with reds spread out below me. Hazy in the distance, a line of blue-grey peaks stood ageless and motionless along the horizon. I had never been so high before, and I felt simultaneously alone in the world and one with everything. Like my existence was both meaningless and terribly important, all at the same time. And it was wonderful. I was full of wonder.
But how–you might ask–does one go about recreating wonder in one’s writing?
I do not think there is an easy answer to that question. Each and every one of us experiences things in a unique way, and to attempt to truly reproduce a universality like wonder would be nearly impossible. I think the only way to really create that feeling in your writing is to feel it while you write. To experience every word again as though it were as new and wonderful as the first time you heard it or tasted it on your tongue or scribbled it on paper. To approach every new sentence (no matter how many times you have rewritten it) with the same wide-eyed wonderment you felt when you experienced that new place for the first time. To grasp the elusive sensation of wonderment and hang on to it for dear life as you compose paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter.
Characters can sometimes get boring. The inner landscape of the protagonist becomes a little too familiar. The scenery surrounding them loses a little color. The dialogue becomes flat and a little pointless. That’s when we, as writers, have to sit back a little and remember that we’re trying to create something wonderful, here. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing poetry or prose, fiction or non-fiction. Hang on to that wonder and make sure you infuse your writing with it. Because if you aren’t in awe of what you are writing, then your readers won’t be, either.
I am grateful for all the beauty that surrounds me, and I must learn to grow from the things that hold me back, and leave behind the things that do not allow me to grow.