The reason to write about something is to disturb the essence of an encounter and then protect it.
The thing that the piece of writing will need protection from is the writing itself.
What I am writing about will need to be protected from me. A small story that is shared with me here at the shop is not necessarily small. It just has a small entry point. But itis a vast story.
When I write, I do not want these stories to be viewed as through clear glass.
Barbara came to the shop and I wrote about her. The writing is the lens through which I viewed her; and her small story was not small. My understanding and ability to share it, however, is small. Instead of looking at Barbara through glass, which is too clear and hot, I have to look through something like a polished coin of opal, through shadows and complications. If I see her too easily, I might understand her too easily and thus wrongly. There ought to be a courtesy of space and shadow so that her real story can survive my inaccuracies.
If I run the stories through opal, they will be preserved. This means writing less and interpreting nothing.
If I say that I can see with clarity, I will be wrong. A proper and courteous view is always distorted (by me). I must write responsibly to be fair.
It is important that I clear away the ropes and strings of too many words so that the essence of my subject is not bruised.
Barbara came in and asked me to help her wrap some Christmas gifts for her grandchildren. She carries her purse between both wrists as her hands are too swollen and painful to grasp things. Her hands today are shaking. She said that her son and his family have told her that she must move to an aged care facility.
I helped her wrap the small things she had, but it was her fading dignity that we were really wrapping.
(Artwork by Bing Wright)