Saturday Starter: Shimmering Images
In chapter 7 of Shimmering Images: a Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir, Lisa Dale Norton explains the concept of Shimmering Images.
A Shimmering Image is one that you can’t shake. It pops up when your mind is idle. Or worse, when it’s not. “A Shimmering Image is one of those memory pictures you’ve had for years.” It’s recurring, rising to the surface, “pulsing with meaning.” The moment doesn’t have to be profound. It can be watching your husband struggle to start the lawnmower, sweat beading his forehead, teeth bared as he yanks the starter again and again. For some reason this image remains clear in your mind and continues to resonate. Or it could be as important as the moment you realized he doesn’t love you anymore.
According to Norton, “These Simmering Images are the source of your most potent stories . . . that’s why they shimmer. They have energy; if you squint at them you will see the edges of the image shimmer, wiggle with potential, like one of those heat waves rising from a long hot highway across desert in the center of summer.
“Hang on to all those Shimmering Images. Whenever one shimmies into the front lobe of your consciousness, jot it down in your ever-growing file of “Stories That Need to Be Told” – even if all you have time for is one or two words. Capture it: pears, swimming pool, four-leaf clovers, fresh-mown grass, refrigerator boxes. Don’t let the image slip away.”
This week, start by making a list of your shimmering images. Then, pick one and write three pages stream-of-consciousness about that image.