Sunday, June 11, 2006

Resonance


There’s a technique we use in writing to underscore character development or change: we show the same person saying the same thing or performing the same action at different times in the book, and it’s a nice, subtle way of allowing the changes that have taken place to resonate with the reader.

I had that resonance in my own life yesterday, when we were painting Sam’s room. It has now been five and a half years since my girls and I moved here to New Orleans from Australia. We bought this house, which was a nice house but needed a fair amount of work. The girls and I painted the entire inside, including ceilings. We were staying at my mother’s house at the time, and we would come over in the morning, put on a CD—usually Enrique Iglesias’s first album, since it was one of the few things we could agree on—and tackle one room after the other. The very first room we painted was Sam’s.

Yesterday, Sam, Danielle and I painted Sam’s room, which suffered some damage when the roof went. Sam brought over her Ipod, plugged it in, and said, “I know what we’re going to listen to.” I was up on a ladder cutting in when the first chords began to play. For one brief instant the moment shifted, and we were back in time, my two girls and I, listening to Enrique and painting our new house.

We all laughed, and then the laughter faded as we each thought, inevitably, about the changes that have taken place in our lives in the last five and a half years. When last we painted that room, I was a single romance writer with two children, one eleven, one fifteen. Today I’m writing mysteries and thrillers; I have one daughter about to go off to Yale Law and another starting her senior year in high school. I also have a new husband I hadn’t even met five years ago, while the house and the city around us…well, you know all about that.

Resonance. Useful in life as well as in fiction.

5 comments:

Sphinx Ink said...

As I read through your week's entries, I repeatedly felt the sense of wonder that lets me know when something touches the right chord. From your discussion of resonance yesterday, to June 7th's entry--"In some places, weeds will overgrow what once was. But in other places, the human spirit will prevail, and what once was will be again,"--I appreciate not only your thoughts, but also the beauty with which you express them.

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