I’m writing this week about an Inuit girl, Buniq, stepsister of Sammy in my Starbird Ridge series. I’ve discovered a wonderful word: silatujuq. It’s the Inuit word for one who is wise, and it translates literally, Endowed with a Large Sky.
Isn’t that great? I think of a visit we made to Montana a few years ago, and remember how awesome it was, that Big Sky stretching as far as I could see. Here in the Northwest, we have evergreen trees poking up into the sky everywhere, and while I love living in a forest land, it does make it hard to see the unbroken sky. The other night I went out on our deck at 4 AM to view the eclipse. Though the night was clear, my view of the moon was blocked by the tall evergreens in our back yard. In shoes and pajamas, I wandered our neighborhood until I found enough open space to view the orange-shadowed moon.
So it is in my writing sometimes: I see little pieces of things, get part of the picture. It takes awhile for that first flash of a story to develop into a cohesive plot, for those glimmers of a shadowy person to take on the solid shape of a fully formed and unique character in my story.
And in the process, I need to do a lot of thinking, meditating, walking, moodling–getting to that place where I have an unbroken view of this story. For it’s not just the plot and characters I need to see clearly, it’s that inner life, the insight and understanding that comes to me as I’m writing, something I can’t always put into words, but which is the true heart of the story. It’s what gives me (and hopefully the reader) a little chill, a sense deep inside that here is truth, here is meaning, here is something to nourish and remember, be it Miles freeing the true victim from the Shriker in Janet Lee Carey’s The Beast of Noor, or Stephen finding the only way possible to save his sister Maria in Helen Szablya’s and my book, The Fall of the Red Star.
This week, as I come to see the bigger picture for Buniq and Sammy, and perhaps the bigger picture for this whole Starbird Ridge series, I will take time to journal, to ponder, to pray, to walk–to get to that place where I can see more clearly.
May all of us this week, in whatever we encounter, find a place to stretch our horizons, to discover that we are indeed, silatujuq, Endowed with a Large Sky.