Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

How would I write this?

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Dec• 13•19

It’s been said that writers live twice–once in the moment, and again while writing about what happened.

I’ve been pondering this since yesterday afternoon. A “pineapple express” weather system arrived this week bringing warmer temperatures and heavy rains coming from the Hawaiian Islands. It had rained and rained the past few days, but then I looked up from my computer as the sun appeared like a brilliant omen in the south. I changed out of my slouchy yoga pants, slapped on some lipstick, pulled on a cap and jacket,  and headed to the store–about a mile and a half away.

My plan was to pick up two much-needed items. As I was driving north the ominous, dense sky was a deep charcoal and I felt a stab of unease since it was early afternoon. I parked as the rain returned and dashed into the store berating myself for not wearing rain gear.

As I selected my items, without warning, the heavens unloaded. I was in a new building with high vaulted ceilings interspersed with many oversized skylights. And the sounds of the storm beating down on the roof and skylights reminded me of a tornado I rode out years ago. The roar and pounding blasted at my nerves and obliterated normalcy.  All around me shoppers were exchanging uneasy glances, gazing upward, kids covering their ears.

Since returning to my car wasn’t possible, I grabbed a cart in the entryway noting the hail pounding the pavement, and started shopping for more items, taking my time. As I walked around amid the clamor, I felt like I’d entered another surreal existence. Like stepping into a Stephen King story. Strangers were huddling and chatting, their expressions guarded or wondering, and the atmosphere was eerie, charged, and unsettled.

I couldn’t help but soak in all I was seeing, hearing, and feeling, and wondering how I might write about it. How I would evoke the primal fears that come with nature’s harsh punishments or a startling changed reality. After the hail and deluge stopped it took me awhile to arrive home because streets were flooded and a sense of vulnerability never left me.

How are you gathering up these moments, both small and dramatic?The emotions that go along with them?  How do you make stories from everyday living?


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