write . . . small

by Kristen

I write small.

I majored in journalism, partly because—though I couldn’t have articulated it then—I love writing the unfolding story. I love the immediacy of telling the story in real time, rarely knowing the ending, while digging into the past to make sense of the present. It’s layered and nuanced. And it’s true . . . or a documentation of the pursuit of truth.

When I didn’t become a journalist, I stopped writing. I lost my story-telling outlet. But ten years later, I went to a writing workshop because the words were piling up inside and needed an escape.

The first assignment was to write a “slice of life” in 350 words or less. I loved the constraint of the word count: it required a narrow focus zoomed in on one moment to tell an entire story. Like a droplet of water on a timeline the story magnified one event to comprehensible proportions.

Long after the workshop ended, I am still examining small slices and writing what I see. I mount each specimen of life and slide it under the lens of my writing microscope. And I record what I see. One magnified cross-section at a time.

The small moments take on new dimensions, greater depth and detail, under magnification. Anything larger than a moment is too big. It needs to be small enough to slip in my pocket and carry with me. I need to roll it around in my fingers and pull it out to see it in different lights, at different times of day, in different contexts. If I can see it with my naked eye, I miss the intricacy close examination reveals.

It’s the accumulation of seemingly insignificant, mundane, often overlooked moments that shape me. I’m not formed by the extraordinary nearly as much as by the ordinary. Those are the moments I need to delve into and learn from; that’s my writing process.

So I write the tiny building blocks of life . . . I write small.


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