This past weekend I had one of those moments where I looked up into the blue sky and thanked God as I watched my friend/love mow her yard for the first time.
On its face, that may not seem like such a God worthy moment. I mean, mowing grass for the first time? What's the big deal? Well, in many ways, yeah it isn't that big of a deal until you get into the back story and until the textures of that day and the meaning behind being able to observe something so ordinary come into to focus. And this is sort of my point when I wrote the header to this: Sensation Translation.
I have always wanted my writing to have the texture of fine grain wood as it creates smells, thoughts, tastes, emotions, and evokes tactile experience. When I feel that I am succeeding with my writing, it is because I have been able to use words to create a world within someone's mind and have translated letters and text into a fully sensual/sensory experience for the reader, brought them to a point where they are no longer reading, but experiencing the words on the page.
Not easy to do and probably something I may never have truly achieved, but certainly a worthy goal.
So how to do that? I don't know, but the challenge lies in trying to get a reader to experience the sensation I felt as I watched this person mow her yard. And I can't do that if I have to spend a lot of time with writing that is attempting to convince the reader that they should just believe what I am saying. They have to feel it for its own worth and intuitively understand why it is so meaningful, which is work.
So to write the essay or short story I want to write that includes that moment the reader has to feel my sense of gratitude that I was able to survive cancer for long enough to even be alive that day. They have to understand the backstory of recently failed relationships leading to this sense of love that feels very new and exciting. They have to know her slight trepidation and not find it tedious or distracting. They have to smell, taste and delight of the peaches we bought earlier that day, which were a sensory experience unto themselves and something that in that shared experience heightened the closeness between the two characters. There is also the physical closeness shared between the two, which the reader needs to relate in a sympathetic and shared way by evoking their own experience of their own experiences of intimacy with another. The reader has to be teased from the natural caustic/cynical tendencies.
In short, they need to see that moment truly and fully from the perspective of the narrator. This is something that psychologists often call "Theory of the Mind," which refers to the ability of one to have the empathy and sympathy required to understand another's emotional state. Kids with Asperger's syndrome--a form of autism--often are unable to see from another's point of view due to their inability to key into social cues and a range of other issues, which makes them socially inept at certain times.
So I was thinking today that perhaps a way to think of creating that sensation translation is by cajoling the reader into having that theory of the mind in the same way that you would attempt to explain to an Asperger's kid why someone is perhaps feeling sad or angry. Of course, as with everything, it is putting the theory into practice that is the challenge.
Causes James Buchanan Supports
Expanding health care in the US, ending war as a viable tool of foreign policy, and issues related to social justice in general.