‘When we look back, we relive moments with so much more pizzazz. I often say, when I am on holidays somewhere amazing, that I am looking forward to remembering this moment.’ (Miss Cookas. Philosopher for a day.)
It was a moment of panic.
I sat down to begin my next short story. I flipped open my lap top, scrolled and clicked my way to a new word document, and I stared at the blank page.
All I knew was that this fictional story I was about to write would be set in the seaside town of Broome. The problem was this: I couldn’t remember much about the place. I remembered the steamy heat hanging in the air. I remembered the orange sunsets, a bleeding sky behind a line of dopey camels.
And I remembered the magic, a sort of X factor that seemed to fog up my brain in the best of ways.The girl behind the desk at the caravan park said she felt it when she first holidayed in Broome—so she decided not to go home.
See? The place was worth writing about. That much I knew. If only I could remember more. Not really sure what I should be doing with all of this new found panic, I emailed my uni tutor.
I have a problem, I said.
Her response blew my mind. It morphed my moment of panic into a moment of inspiration.
She told me not to worry if I couldn’t remember the place exactly as it was. If it happened that my brain just sort of made a few extra things up here and there, that would be okay. Sometimes fiction can be more convincing than real life, she said.
I was struck by this idea and it got me thinking. Could this be true? Could fiction actually be more convincing than real life? Then it occurred to me; yes. Yes it could.
Come with me for a minute.
You’re on a holiday, one that you’ve been dreaming about forever. There’s a deck chair, a cocktail in hand— you’ve been lulled by the calm of the ocean. But something is missing. It’s almost as if the ‘realness’ of the moment can’t quite live up to the way you’d imagined it would be.
Months, perhaps years, down the track, you remember it all. The whoosh of the sea. The curve of the cocktail glass. Suddenly you can feel it all again, but this time that thing that was missing? It’s there now. You’re imagination has painted it in. A memory: the most beautiful of moments, made even more beautiful by power of imagination.
I’m not so afraid of writing my short story now.
My moment of panic has passed and I’ll use my new found inspiration to pick me up and push me along.
I’ll gather my memories of Broome and see where they lead me.
And I’ll trust my imagination to fill in the gaps.