Embrace the Experience

It is incumbent upon writers of all kinds to embrace each and every experience they go through in order to inform their writing. Whether it is gaining knowledge, undergoing a spiritual awakening or an emotional surge, or simply doing something unlike the events in your daily life, every single experience becomes a letter in a word, a word in a sentence, a sentence in a paragraph, another little piece in the larger picture of creation.

I recently had what I hope will not be a once-in-a-lifetime journey into Alaska. Yes, it was a work-related trip designed to increase my knowledge of my company’s offerings. To that end, i took photos to show my co-workers and supervisors in my department, wrote and extended report with pictures, and even put together a nearly 12 minute video presentation on Windows Movie Maker. But I took the advice of one of the guides and did not focus solely upon snapping photos. I sat back, looked, listened, and breathed. The images are burned into my eyes; the sounds resonate in my ears; and the cleansing air of an utterly fascinating part of the world is still in my lungs.

This is not a travelogue. Unlike the photos I posted previously, this is not a dissertation into the logistics of an Alaskan vacation. This is a reminder, as much for myself as for fellow writers. In an earlier post, I commented how I nearly missed a special day with my wife because the battery in my camera died and I didn’t have a spare. That was not going to happen to me this time. A backup battery and charger as well as charger for my Smartphone had me covered. However, the words of the guide rang truer in my ears than the preparation techniques I learned from my parents.

Stop and smell the roses. Or the coffee. The main point of the cliché is to use your senses in a period of calm and absorb what is before you. Again, to quote Wordsworth “”Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” This is true for all writing. We don’t have to experience everything in order to write about it. But we do need a point of emotional reference which can not be acquired through the lens of a camera.

So, Alaska was strange and interesting, breath-taking and magnificent, rich in history and local color, and far different from any state in the lower 48. The experience is far more extensive than that and will be a part of who I am, or will become, as a writer.

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