This past October I had the good fortune to run a series of four workshops at the Middleburgh Library in Schoharie County as part of their Authors Among Us series, supported by NYSCA and the Mohawk Valley Library System. The Middleburgh Library is the phoenix that rose from destruction, except this time the ashes were the floodwaters of Hurricane Irene, now called “The 500-Year Flood”. With enormous community support, the library has been reborn with a fresh renovation and a gracious community room that became our home for two hours a week.
Arranged in our horseshoe design that let us get closer and closer to the past histories of people we had just recently met, we absorbed every word of the memories and reflections of an extremely talented group that ranged in age from thirteen years to senior citizens. Once we entered the room, our small universe became the only one that mattered each Saturday afternoon, as we grew into a word society, and wrote inspired by personal photographs, memories of color and place, and moments in time that were revelatory or profound to each of us. One of our writing prompts concerned the place where we write, and the following writer examined her moment of inspiration and her attempt to follow the whisper of a story.
We grew hushed as she read this dreamscape of her writing process which inaugurates our series, “The Writer’s Life,” examining all phases of the writer’s world.
by Geri Manchester
When writing I feel as though I am driving through a blinding snowstorm. There are tall wood poles marking the sides of the road, and I do my best to stay within these limitations. I cannot see where I am going. Oddly enough, I do not care; it is only important that I am moving forward, no matter how quickly or how slowly. It requires my complete attention, intense attention. Attention so intense that a quiet calm serenity spreads across my brain.
My insides relax and I feel my mind and body become one. It is a moment of holiness that I want to last forever. All other information and sensation are blocked; I am one with myself. It is the most wholesome, happy, serene existence and when I am interrupted, when I am required to re-enter my ... ah... reality on earth again, I am annoyed, frustrated and angry. Then I struggle to contain these foreign emotions and I reluctantly, regretfully return to my everyday world. A fallen angel.
I write to see what I'm thinking and I write novels and short stories to see what I am feeling. I have never seen a blank sheet of paper. When I think about it I feel I am writing for a blind person. The person who reads my words is blind and it is up to me to put down the words that enable him/her to see. Something. A picture, an idea, a feeling of emotion. The only way out is through. Once I'm at the other end, I can look back and see the tracks of where I have been. For good or ill, this is my writing process.