|July walk 2015|
I did not realize there were so many shades to the meaning of the word impression until I consulted a dictionary. I simply thought of impressions as those memories of childhood printed on the brain--like these black-eyed susans I came upon while on my walk. They brought back to mind the field next to my childhood home--how they filled the lot on the north side of the house, hovered over by red-winged blackbirds. Mom's bachelor buttons were there somewhere, too. I remember them as being one of Mom's favorite flowers to plant.
|in the park 2015|
|on the lake 2015|
|an impression of original blue coat|
All this led me to ask the question, if impressions play such a huge part in our lives, what role do they play in our writing? What gems of wisdom can help steer us down this road? A sampling of what I found:
1. The Query. "Above all, a query letter is a sales pitch and it is the single most important page an unpublished writer will ever write. It's the first impression and will either open the door or close it. It's that important, so don't mess it up. Mine took 17 drafts and two weeks to write." --Nicholas Sparks
2. Story Endings. "How a piece ends is very important to me. It's the last chance to leave an impression with the reader, the last shot at 'nailing' it. I love to write ending lines; usually, I know them first and write toward them, but if I knew how they came to me, I wouldn't tell." --S.E. Hinton
3. Influential Books. "Name the book that made the biggest impression on you. I bet you read it before you hit puberty. In the time I've got left, I intend to write artistic books--for kids--because they're still open to new ideas." --Gary Paulsen
4. Place. "A place makes a deep impression on you when you're young. It's like your childhood. It fertilizes the imagination." --Richard Eyre
5. Language. "I grew up in a house where language was appreciated and cared about. I'm sure that, although I wasn't aware of it at the time, it must have made an impression on me." --Marian Seldes
6. Inspiration. "The moment of inspiration can come from memory, or language, or the imagination, or experience--anything that makes an impression forcibly enough for language to form." -Carol Ann Duffy
7. Names. "A name, of course, is like a piece of clothing, isn't it? It gives you an impression right away." --James Salter
8. Relationships. "I grew up with an incredibly loving and supporting family that gave me the impression there were a lot of options for me out there." --Esperanza Spalding
9. Note-Taking. "I started to write things down, as a very young child, wanting to find a way to remember--to keep close somehow--moments that made an impression on me. --Anne Michaels
10. Grammar. "Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control." --Jeffrey Gitomer
11. Childhood Memories. "Memory in youth is active and easily impressible; in old age it is comparatively callous to new impressions, but still retains vividly those of earlier years."--Charlotte Bronte
Impressions. They play a huge part in our lives which in turn play a part in our writing. What are some of your strongest childhood impressions? And how have they surfaced in your writing?
p.s. What about "first impressions"? Do you remember the story of Susan Boyle's first audition in Britain's Got Talent 2009? Watch it here for a refresher course in being careful not to form opinions based on those first impressions!