This is a story from circa 2011.
I am working on a scene, propped up in a recliner at my grandmother’s house. I was having trouble truly seeing and grasping the setting instead of letting it be a blurry background image, so I close my eyes and look past my characters to their surroundings. I shut out their sounds and matter to focus on that around them. To cement it in my mind I speak aloud (something I’m more prone to when I am having trouble shutting out the world I live in), describing trees, shrubs, the texture of the dirt, and the sound of the water.
My spoken words fade into thought, as my thoughts move faster than my mouth (unlike my sister…ahem…I didn’t say that). My grandmother sat down to watch and listen for a moment, which I didn’t mind (hence working in the open living room and starting by speaking aloud).
She’s watching, thinking it’s so neat to see me creating (because she’s a wonderful person who has the utmost faith in me and my work, though often I get discouraged) and suddenly I open my eyes and bring my pen to paper. “Creek,” I say as I write.
A laugh bursts from the side of me. I turn and look at her, and she laughs more. (And you should hear her laugh. It’s like a stand-alone punch line.) My mouth’s already quirking into a smile as I ask what she found so hilarious. And she explains.
With all the imagery of the forest and beautiful sound of the water, she had been imagining me working out an amazing scene, coming up with something fantastical and beautiful, and then I say ‘creek’. It dashed her thoughts of beauty on the rocks of hilarity.
But what she didn’t know was how the ‘creek’ had been bothering me for several days now. I heard the water, even saw a part of it, but wasn’t sure what it was. Words have meanings and connotations. A creek is different than a stream is different than a river. When I say, write, or read the words they bring up different images, different sounds, different obstacles. (As I’m sure it does for others, though probably different images, etc., to a point.)
Thus it had been nagging me that I didn’t exactly know which category it fell in to, which is because I felt the nag but never focused in to resolve it. The scene involved the creek, but I was busy writing the action, which might get in the water but didn’t necessarily require me to look at its entirety right then. Alas, that’s me.
Needless to say, ‘creek’ has become a standing joke between us, particularly when I am speaking of my writing progress. I have not shared it with anyone before, family or otherwise, because I thought it was one of those things where the person needs to be present to truly understand and enjoy the hilarity. You tell me.