I was reading through my notes in my writing scrapbook earlier, and suddenly noticed a tiny bug, the colour of skin, translucent and almost too small for the naked eye to see. At first I was simply going to brush it away, most likely killing it in the process, but I decided to watch it a little, tracking its progress. I strained my eyes to watch it as it made its way across the page. Here was life. It may be small and seem insignificant, but of course everything is relative.
I tried to get it to crawl onto my finger so I could take a closer look, but every time it got near my finger it could sense it looming there and turned to take a different path. Sometimes it faltered a little before doing so, and I realised there must be some sort of thought process going on there! It seemed as if it was not just reacting instinctively, but actually choosing how to proceed. (I’m sure a biologist may have an explanation for this that renders my thoughts merely the result of an over-optimistic imagination.) Suddenly this tiny life-form became very significant. It was life; beautiful, complex, perfectly functioning life. Alive. Living.
There is so much life, all around us. So much energy, so much existence. I imagined its life, this little bug. What did things look like from its perspective? Did it really ‘think’? Was it aware at all? What was its purpose? Did it even need one? Or was it simply existing because it can? Because life is everywhere, and it needs no reason, no justification for being.
We have such small eyes. We think we’re kings of the world. But we’re like moles, burrowing through all this wonder.
Polar Bears by Mark Haddon
I think this fascination with life fuels my creative instincts. When I act a part in a play I am inhabiting a life other than my own, the life of the character. When I put pen to paper my imagination is giving birth to a character, a personality, with every hope, flaw, habit and subtle nuance that altogether moulds a spirit that is uniquely theirs, as they burst from my mind and spill onto the page.
I’m not particularly religious – perhaps ‘undecided’ would be the most suitable label, if anyone feels I need one. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find life itself magical. And right now I can feel a new life coming into being. A new voice wanting to be heard. Has she been there all along, waiting for the right time, for me to discover her? Or were the seeds of her creation only sewn a week or so ago as the idea for a story, her story, first crept out of my subconscious and gave my grey matter a little nudge?
The idea I mentioned in my last post, the beginnings of yet another story that wants to grow up to be a novel, has set down roots and firmly planted itself in my mind. It’s just waiting for me to breathe some life into it, and now that life is ready. I call her Emily. I don’t know her favourite food yet, have only a vague idea of her age. I don’t even know her favourite colour, or if she indeed has one. Whether she’d choose Britney or Christina, or if she even gives a damn. But all this will be revealed to me, as she speaks and I listen, jotting down a characterisation, sketching out the lines of her life. And like the little bug – as important in the scheme of life as ever, yet blink and you’ll miss him – it’s the little details that count.