MyStoryYourStory: Sub-layers of time serve as compass

�Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so that we may feel again their majesty and power?� �  Annie Dillard �A Writer�s Life�

People often ask where writers find time to write and how we decide what to write about. While describing a writer�s life is not always easy, perhaps the best way is through analogies.

Take for example spelunking caves. Writing for recreation, hobby or for a living is comparable to cavers negotiating tight and narrow terrains of the inarticulately.

A writer�s cave can be found deep down in a mother�s expression and a father�s distance, a grandmother�s ingenuity and a grandfather�s mannerisms.

Spelunkers climb, crawl and even dive throughout caves, sometimes slipping and sliding as they go. Writers are no different. We climb and crawl about steep and rocky passages, leading to stories as far back as childhood or as near as yesterday�s wait in the checkout lane.

We are like songsters chirping lengthy lyrical ballads, enticing readers to recall and relive stories of their own.

Conducting an autopsy is analogous to a writing life. Like the doctor performing a post-mortem exam, we uncover causes and meanings of episodic mysteries, exhaustively dissecting reasoning and then suturing themes of one�s existence.

Writers can be compared to detectives with search warrants investigating scene after scene, carefully uncovering meanings and motives, truths and testimonies, inconsistencies and ideologies.

In our element, we wander dark empty hallways of the past, pursuant, carefully watching and listening for stories � our curiosity always peaked. Tirelessly, we discern benign narratives down the street, around the corner or beyond the back door.

Writers prime the pump of topics, our buckets dutifully positioned under the spout, ready to catch the first drop, then the next, until overflowing.

Like travelers weary but relentless, writers consider sub-layers of time as their compasses, charting the merest utterances, the subtlest glances, the slightest gestures as testaments to their story quests.

Writers seek to illuminate all that is imperceptible. We are preoccupied with channeling what�s packed away in the closets of memory, nestled under the cushions of life and stored behind the doors of everyday experiences.

In answer to a higher calling, we go beyond the fray, agilely unraveling the tension, tedium and tenor of that which is contained over yonder or perhaps right here.

Giving shape to the shapeless like tailors, writers dress nods and grimaces with words.

We search the unsearchable, explore the unexplored and decipher the undecipherable.

We capture moods and permit them to shout. We expose sorrow and apply a healing balm.

NOTE: Meet Paula Damon in person in the historic one-room school house at the Annual Adams Homestead Days, Saturday, Aug. 13, Adams Nature Center and Preserve, I-29, McCook Lake, Exit 4. Paula will be a featured guest at 1 p.m., when she will read from her collection of award-winning articles. At 2 p.m., she will conduct a mini-writing workshop, followed by a book signing. Adams Homestead Days is a free public event. Come.

2011 � Copyright Paula Damon.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, her columns took five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamonpaula@gmail, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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