Friday, January 28, 2011

Storm of words

Here was the story on Wednesday: We were supposed to have a cloudy day, with a chance of snow flurries or snow showers, or maybe a bit of rain or sleet. This would then taper off. About 5-8 inches' worth of snow would fall later that night.

Here's what really happened.

When I awoke shortly after 5 AM on Wednesday, there were already a couple of inches of snow on the ground. It snowed steadily until noon, then turned to sleet, then freezing rain. By that time, we already had about 5 inches of snow, with the real snowfall still to come. And that night, another 9 or 10 inches fell.

It transformed the land, as snow does, blanketing everything in white, smoothing the landscape, frosting the bushes and buildings.

It makes me think of story-telling. A good book organizes and smooths over life's experiences, transforming them into something startling and unfamiliar. The landscape we've been staring at, day after day, until we no longer see it, is changed and new.

A good story has a couple of surprises. You peek out the window, expecting darkness and cloud, and instead you see a white velvet carpet. The snow intensifies until it's part of a thunderstorm, complete with a cracking and crashing in the sky.

A good story is built one word at a time, the same way that snow--with its power to bring major cities to a halt--falls as one tiny snowflake at a time.

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