I’m happy to introduce Kathryn Magendie to you this morning. I have long appreciated Kat’s sense of humor and have been delighted with her books Tender Graces and Secret Graces. Sit back, grab a glass of cold sweet tea (or whatever your favorite summertime beverage is) and enjoy Kat’s very own sweet summer memory surge.
Memory Surges: What Words May Come
The summer we installed screen doors on the front and back of our little log home, I said to GMR, “I need to check them out.”
“They work,” he said. “I already tried them.”
“No, what I mean is: I need to check them for slammability. What’s the use of a screen door if it doesn’t slam properly?” I opened the door. The spring made that scraaang sound. So far, so good. I stepped out and away from the door and let it fly shut: SLAMMERSMACK!—
— I am running on summer-heated grass. A just-mown yard leaves my feet green-tinged. Sweat and dirt hides in the creases of my neck. Youngest brother shouts, “No fair!” Impish brother answers, “Haha! Is, too! Nya Nya.” I say, “I’m a winged horse flying up to the skyyyyy. No one can catch me!” Oldest brother runs to catch me, trips me into the grass, teases, “Haw haw! I caught you!” Daredevil brother swings from a tree limb, calling out, “Look at me! Look! LOOOOK!,” and he flips up and over and lands on his backside—we kids all laugh, mouths open wide, fingers pointing. Wait, what’s that?—Pop Goes the Weasel from two streets away. We rush inside through the screen door—SLAMMERSMACK! SLAMMERSMACK! SLAMMERSMACK!—to shake out nickels and dimes from our ceramic piggy banks. We hurry back out—(SLAMMERSMACK! “You kids stop slamming that door!”)—holding the coins in our sweaty palms. Mr. Ice-Cream Man turns the corner and is here. We crowd around his truck. He opens the freezer and cold air whooshes out. I ask for a Flintstone’s Push Up, and after he hands it to me, I let loose of my sticky coins. Trade. Even Steven. Off I go, push up dripping down my arm, and nothing else is as sweet—
—“It works,” I said to GMR. And it worked in ways I’d never imagined, for a memory-surge came calling from a simple echoed sound.
Those memory-surges can be translated into our writing, even when we are not aware of it. Imagine that into your opened window comes a familiar scent or sound (barbeque charcoals, lawnmower revving, sweet olive, ka-shi-shi-shi ka-shi-shi-shi of a lawn sprinkler, bumblebee buzzzz, peaches), and as you are writing your brain receives, and from its storage banks stirs Memory. Your writing takes a turn, even if you are not noting it consciously. And then, your words or scene or character will have a wonderful Truth to it, tangible evidence of something real.
I once said to an English instructor, “I didn’t know I’d done that. It was accidental.”
She answered, “There are no accidents in writing. Everything comes from that brain of yours.”
If we relax into our writing and allow our subconscious some freedom, who knows what magic may come? Who knows what sensory happenstance will provide a hidden memory, and then, as we type away, particles of that memory are placed into our stories, even if ethereally, even if obliquely, even if only by the placement of one tiny phrase, or image, sight, or sound. It’s all a part of the process.
Sit back. Relax. Fingers to keys. Trust the process. The words will come.
And I’d like to know: What are some of your favorite summer memories?
Kathryn Magendie is Co-editor/publisher of the Rose & Thorn (http://www.roseandthornjournal.com/), and author of the Graces Series: Tender Graces & Secret Graces (the third Graces book will be released in 2011). Kathryn’s novel Sweetie will be released fall 2010. Her short stories, essays, poetry, and nature-inspired photography have been published in online and print publications. Kathryn lives tucked in a cove at Killian Knob in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. You can follow her on twitter (http://twitter.com/katmagendie) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/kathryn.magendie), her blog (http://www.tendergraces.blogspot.com/), or her website (kathrynmagendie.com).