Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Writing and the Subconscious Mind

I think it’s funny how bits and pieces of my life, my memories, find their way into my writing.
In Book ONE, the main character, a young woman alone and feeling lost, finds her grandmother’s cookbook. It was more of a journal, recipes and anecdotes of family events. Memories.

A few years ago I started making scrapbook pages of my favourite recipes. I have the originals, but each of my grandchildren has a copy. There are photos of the kids baking with me, and notes about where a recipe came from, or when it was first served.

Kayla, Tia and Rianna, my baking buddies.
All the recipes are in a binder, in protective sleeves, the binder covers done with each child’s name and photo in true scrapbooking style.
The recipes were about thirty in number when my daughter and daughter-in-law presented me with a make work project.

Two more grandchildren, born a month apart, had me scrambling back to Staples for more binders and a slew of photocopying.
I hope, when those kids are grown, they will enjoy the recipes, and remember their grandmother with love. Exactly the feelings my character had reading her grandmother’s journal. 

My father died suddenly in 1988. I think of him often, and have to laugh as memories of him find their way into my books.

Dad’s routine on a Sunday morning was simple, coffee, a cigarette, and the crossword puzzle. He had this small pencil, which he picked up at the golf course for marking his score card, and used it for the crossword.

I wasn’t so fussy, if I saw the unfinished crossword on the table, I’d grab a pen and fill in what I could, often having to scratch over a mistake. Those were tough puzzles.

My dad had a subtle way of telling you what he thought, without making it a big issue. Like when I was a teenager and I experimented with peroxide, leaving my normally dark hair streaked with orange. I didn’t get the expected parental lecture, what I got was a simple question. “How long will it take to grow out?”

So his annoyance, at my taking a pen to his crossword puzzle, was handled the same way. “Some might say it’s a sign of conceit to do a crossword in ink.” I used the pencil after that, but I used one with an eraser on the tip.

Is it any wonder when I had an elderly man and a young woman strike up a friendship, it was forged over filling in a crossword puzzle. I liked this concept so much; I made the crossword an ongoing part of Book FOUR.

My dad was fond of peanut butter, loved it on his toast in the mornings. My mother found a wooden plaque, cut in the shape of a slice of bread, with the following motto. “Man cannot live by bread alone, he must have peanut butter.” I remember it sat on the top of the stove in their place in Florida.

In Book SIX, I wanted two strangers to meet, and strived to make that meeting memorable. The woman is in the grocery store picking up supplies for the cottage, and stops in the aisle with all the peanut butter and jams.

She had recently lost her husband, her grief compounded when she learns he’d been having an affair. She looks at the peanut butter and has a flashback to better times, remembering when her husband gave her that same wooden plaque, a joking reference to her pregnancy craving for peanut butter.

The other character comes upon this teary woman and…well, you’d have to read the book.

What gets me is all these real memories end up in my writing without any plan. I wasn’t writing only to stop and think, what could I use from my life to make this work? After writing those segments, I’d sit back in surprise, shocked that those memories came so fluidly from my subconscious, and worked so well.

Thanks Dad, love you and miss you every day.



1 comment:

Blogger's Brother said...

Our father had a knack for telling stories, and reruns of the stories were a common thing. This is something he handed down to me. One of my favourite Dad stories has been repeated many, many times...

While watching a football game with Dad we were discussing how Mom and Dad had the two girls and planned to stop there. Then I came along, I was an "accident" (a point my sisters would remind me of).

Feeling quite full of myself, I said, "Then you finally had the son you always wanted."

Without missing a beat, Dad pointed to the screen to a shot of quarterback Joe Montana and said, "There's the son I always wanted."

We all have a wealth of Dadisms.