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The Layers of Your Life

Slice through the trunk of an old tree and you’ll see those beautiful concentric circles that tell you how long it’s lived. You would see something similar if you sliced through the earth’s core. Layers and layers of life lived. The influences of time and weather, of soil, of nurture and damage, are all there. Layers that suggest growth, that make that tree, and our earth, what they are.

We’re like that too. Each moment of each day, a subtle layering is taking place: it forms who and what we are – and when we come to write, all of this will weave itself through our words.

I once heard an interview with a writer – I have been trying to track down his exact words ever since – in which he said that every novel is a snapshot of its author at that particular moment in her life: what she has read and seen and touched, who she has loved, what she has thought and is thinking, the myriad experiences that make up the layers of who she is. We might not be able to see it, tangibly, on the page, but it’s all there, in every character, in every scene, in every decision that writer has made.

And these layers are forming through all our days. On the days that are beautiful, when our nerve-endings are alive to the world, when we fall in love, when we experience joy as the sun falls through the trees, when we make a friend, when we read a story that awakes our humanity, when we create something good. And on those other days too, the hard days when our head drops, our feet drag, our shoulders stoop, when we feel misunderstood and alienated and beauty and goodness seem as far away as the moon.

As writers, we can celebrate all our days, because they are shaping us. At every moment of every day, the layers are forming, so that, when a reader opens the page of our book, she will see the lines of life that make our writing true.