I have been dipping into a great book called ‘Inspired Creative Writing’ by Alexander Gordon Smith. In it, I came across the mystifying phrase ‘the objective correlative’. Apparently, it was coined by T S Eliot, and means the need for writers to put abstract emotions like ‘love’ or ‘loneliness’ into solid, tangible objects. This underlines the message I received loud and clear from the tutors on last week’s writing course. There we tried the exercise of writing about an everyday object in a way that was about the object itself, and conveyed a feeling too.
Moments after reading this pearl of wisdom in the book, a friend ‘phoned. We hadn’t been in touch for a while, and she told me about an altercation she’d had with an elderly aunt of hers. The cause? A ring which belonged to my friend’s late mother. It had been promised by the mother to her daughter, but evidently the sister felt entitled to it too. Isn’t this what we all do from time to time? We load a thing with emotional value – which is why hoarders have attics full of stuff! The things in themselves are usually of little material value, but signify a fantastic time or relationship. Suddenly I saw the beginnings of a piece of writing about the ring, and what it meant in terms of memories and emotions to each person to own it.
Going from a blank page to a potential story took 10 minutes. I love it when that happens.