I’ve encountered a couple of writing exercises that prompt you to create a list of items found in someone’s pocket & create a character or story around the said items. Or to visualize what a character’s collection would be & write until you discover why they created this collection or what memories are associated with each part of the overall whole. I’ve decided to turn this on reflective exercise on myself & look at my own mundane collections & write about what I find.
Think of them as sketches, the way an artist will draw variations until they work out the larger story. Hopefully, I’ll write my way into a good idea.
Digital Scraps: Cell Phone
I already know my data trail is somewhere out there, coded and tracked by the phone company and by my government. I’ve had my phone for 7 years now & I couldn’t tell you with certainty what my calls, downloaded ringtones & signals infer about me. Human that I am, I don’t remember the specifics about where I’ve taken my phone or what I’ve said. But I keep the following messages to remember other touchstones in my life.
- A text where my best friend proclaimed her love for the author Hampton Sides.
- A picture from my best friend showing two book covers. The cover for The Thornbirds was handmade because it was a stripped book. The bookstore is now gone, as is the book.
- A picture of my friend J.’s contract to teach in Korea. I’m behind on writing, of course.
- A text from author Michael Martone stating ‘Thanks!’ Thank you!
- A text from Michael Martone stating ‘I love the south with all its strangenesses.’ MM had come to read at my college & encouraged us to text him during the reading. You can still find his number if you know where to look.
- A text from May 2011 from my friend G. congratulating me on my review for The Pale King that had run in my local paper. He liked my concluding sentence. Endings are hard to write.
- A text announcing the birth of my first niece, daughter of my sister K.
- A text from my sister K. with her address and my father’s. Reminder: It’s never too late.
- A message with the first picture of my second niece, daughter of my sister A.
- A text from my mother with the security code to my sister A’s neighborhood. To refer to in those late night emergencies when we need to drop everything & head over to help with the baby.
- A text from 411 with the number to the restaurant where my husband works.
- A picture of my sister-in-law’s surprise wedding.