[I’m open to feedback on the new look of The Writing Life, which now doubles as my website. I still have a few pesky issues to resolve—for example, these hideous blue and purple links which appear, mysteriously, only on the main blog page—but otherwise, I think I’m pretty settled on this general look and direction. Thoughts? Criticisms? Suggestions? I’m all ears.]
I’ve always understood this about myself: that spacial memory plays as powerful a role in my life as any of the five senses. This manifests in numerous ways. I can move swiftly in the dark, finding the precise place on the bedroom floor where I last dropped a pair of socks. I can find my way to bathrooms in unfamiliar homes in the middle of the night, even if I’ve only glimpsed it once before. When I go on walks at night, it doesn’t occur to me to bring a flashlight. Flashlights? What are those for? I’m not talking about night vision. I’m talking about spacial memory, a kind of kinesthetic way of remembering the world. It feels as though I can move through space based on an emotional feeling rather than visual feedback.
Aside from the obvious visual impressions of my surroundings—doorjambs here, coffee tables there, an awkwardly placed breakable object—the most memorable spaces in my life correspond with repeated thought patterns. Returning to Interlochen for the summer, I’m living in the same faculty housing with the same roommate and dog. The way my brain works, this means that when I sit down to eat breakfast I am thinking of The Tunnels of Cu Chi, a war book about the underground tunnels in Vietnam hat I read cover-to-cover in that very same spot. When I sit on the sofa, I remember all three seasons of “Tour of Duty,” which I watched in full last summer. When I walk the dog, I remember that flash of insight that lead to my fiction war story, “Just the Dog & Me” (published this month in the UK).
I wonder what this summer will bring with regard to my creativity. I spent April revising war stories and writing new urban triptychs. I spent May and June preparing my publicity packet to pitch to 14 different agents, as well as applying to multiple residencies. July and August? Chances are I’ll be focused on preparing for my week-long memoir class and, depending on the responses I get in the next few weeks (2 more rejections over the weekend), deciding what’s best for my creative juices this fall. New material? Maybe the echoes of my early war research will work some magic on my spacial memory and inspire a few more stories.