How would you define the moments that matter?
My thoughts here are they must be:-
1. Life affirming.
Most special times with family and friends come into this category.
It doesn’t matter whether you are being creative or enjoying a form of creation new to you. (I hadn’t been to amateur theatre at all before writing for CFT and going to The Chameleons’ productions with Janet. If ever there was a definition of a CFT works outing, this is it! The important thing is discovering creative art new to you. It brings you on as a person, I feel.).
3. You learn something.
4. You have achieved something.
It doesn’t have to be the huge events in life either. It can be achieving something you have found difficult, for whatever reason, and, after plenty of practice and frustration, things finally click into place and you get there. There will be plenty of us who can identify with this one. What may seem small beer to one person is a huge achievement to someone else. It can be too easy to take for granted what we find easy to do.
5. You have developed in character as a result.
One of the great ironies of the writing life is no writers wants rejections but we all get them. The important point is to learn from these rejections, look to improve your work, and keep going. It can sometimes mean changing direction if one style of writing isn’t working out for you but that’s fine.
Learning to cope with the ups and downs of the writing life (and there are always more downs than ups) helps develop stamina and that is a good thing. Should success come you don’t want to be fazed by that either. Kipling was right to advise treating the two imposters “triumph” and “disaster” just the same!
You want to keep making progress and stretching yourself to write better (whether that is by being concise, or trying out other forms of writing new to you to prove to yourself you can do it – or not. You learn a lot through the attempts and what you learn here may be useful to those areas of writing which do suit you. It has been my experience that little in writing is wasted).
6. Then there are the historical moments that change everything.
These can range from Richard III being defeated at Bosworth (no Tudors otherwise, no Reformation etc) to the bullets being fired that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand. When you look back at our history, you will find numerous moments that matter. What would have happened if the Armada had won and so on? The point of history, I’ve always felt, has been to tell our nation’s history in the hope we learn from our mistakes and move on. All I can add there is one word – alas!
The disadvantage of historical moments that matter is we are dependent on testimonies at the time (this is particularly true for Bosworth) and the writers of the materials which will be used later for research purposes will bring in their own bias, consciously or not.
Also what materials are available for research purposes later? Henry VII famously ordered all copies of Titulus Regius to be destroyed unread. This Act of Parliament was the petition by Parliament for Richard III to take the throne. One copy escaped the destruction and was discovered by George Buck when then wrote a reassessment of Richard.
The withholding of information, as well as what materials are available for research purposes, makes a huge difference to how we perceive the historical moments that matter! Also, what George Buck must have felt on reading Titulus Regius for the first time and realising Henry VII had every reason to cover this up.
Richard III was invited to take the throne by Parliament who accepted that his brother Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous due to Edward having had a precontract of marriage with Lady Eleanor Butler. Why does it matter? Because it made Edward’s children illegitimate including Elizabeth of York whom Henry VII went on to marry “to unite the houses of York and Lancaster”. (Truth being that Henry couldn’t let her marry anyone else due to her strong claim on the throne).
Henry wanted Titulus Regius destroyed because while many knew Edward IV was supposed to have had a precontract of marriage, it wasn’t known who with. It was presumed it had been with his mistress and that could easily be disproved by the Tudors. What they couldn’t disprove was the precontract to Lady Eleanor Butler. Can’t disprove it – Richard III was the legal monarch then.
So whistleblowers are nothing new either then. Well done, George Buck.
7. Inventions that change everything tie in with historical moments that matter but cross a wider spectrum.
For example, the invention of the car, plane, photography, the discovery of penicillin, and the ability to vaccinate against diseases that had killed (and sadly still can), are all moments that matter to most of us. We have the direct benefit of these things of course but think how life would be so different had these discoveries not been made.
Our Own Moments that Matter
The advantage we have with our own special moments is being able to capture at least some element of them thanks to photography. When my two previous collies had to be put to sleep, I created photo books of the best moments of their lives with us. I found it therapeutic at the times I created these and now get much enjoyment looking back at those books while relishing the time I spend with Lady. (Incidentally because she is so young I’m creating an annual book for her. It will be a wonderful way of looking back across the whole of her life span later).
Moments that matter for a writer include:-
1. Sending off your first piece of work to a publisher. You’ve agonized over this, finally pluck up the courage to do so, and now your hat is in the ring. Well done! Don’t ever wait to hear back from a publisher before writing something else. It’s a good idea to have writing work “on the go” as well as pieces of work “out there”. Not only is there something to keep your interest levels up by working on new material, you know there is a chance of being published with every piece of work you send out there. The more you write, the more you will learn from what works, what doesn’t etc.
2. Receiving news you are going to be published is always special (and the first time especially so).
3. Going to your first writers’ conference and learning so much from the courses and interacting with the other writers there is wonderful and will encourage you with your own work. It can also help you make contacts but far more importantly friends who will understand the compulsion to write in ways others close to you might not.
4. When you can give good writing advice to others who haven’t heard of it or who are new to writing (and it’s usually both) is lovely too. What goes around comes around. I’ve recently discovered something useful from a writer friend of mine which I’m sure is going to prove useful.
Moments that matter for most of us include:-
1. Good examination results.
2. Passing your driving test.
3. Getting your first job.
4. Moving into your first home.
5. Meeting someone special.
The Point about Moments that Matter
The best thing about such moments? They should all spur you on and help you develop. After all, having passed your driving test, you’re going to want your own car, are you not? Good examination results will lead to you deciding whether to study further or go into the employment world.
The moments that matter to us are the ones that can reveal something about our characters. My wish for my writing, for example, is to make continual progress with it. That doesn’t necessarily mean writing multi bestsellers (though I wouldn’t say no!) but I want to be able to look back on my writing and be able to see how I improved on what I produced year on year.
Staying static is not good for any of us I think. So the secret then is to treasure the moments that matter, we need them, they’re good for us, but to move on and relish the next moment that comes along before moving on again and so on. Happy travelling!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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