My Mind is a Vault

July 11, 2014

Listening to:  Fiona Apple - When the Pawn...

Mood:  Wistful

 

I have a mind like a steel trap. No, seriously. I joke about this with my friends and family a lot. I’m sure sometimes my Hubs wishes I didn’t have such a great memory (because occasionally I remind him of things that happened eons ago that he’d probably like to forget).  I don’t mean that I simply remember an experience easily from ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago (lots of people do that).  No, I can recall things that happened ages ago as though they happened just yesterday, when everyone else involved in the experience has long forgotten the details. I can recall sights, smells, tactile sensations, emotions, the very finite details that should blur or altogether disappear with time and age. They don’t for me.

 

As a writer, I find my ability to remember experiences in great detail quite useful.  If there’s a scene I’m writing that’s sad/angsty/angry/whatever, I will turn on a song that reminds me of a time I’ve felt that way, ruffle through my mental vault, replay the memory in my mind, remember the way I felt, the scents, the sites, and then I write. Even though the scene I’m working on will have nothing to do with my own personal memory, it’s the entire experience—all the ways I can show everything that’s occurring through the five senses—that I use to my advantage.

 

Sure, sometimes I don’t want to remember certain kinds of memories. I mean, who the hell wants to be reminded of past heartbreaks or that time they embarrassed themselves so thoroughly they wanted to crawl into a hole and die? But I don’t mind because I do whatever I need to help me tell the story better. If I want readers to have all sorts of feels while they’re reading my books, then it’s totally worth it to open the mental vault, think about past experiences, and allow myself to remember. I don’t hold on to the past; I use it as a tool to move forward, and grow as both a writer and a person.

 

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