"Who is the Calm Scribe? Is it you? Why are you the Calm Scribe? Are you calm?"
As I sat at my first book fair, I was nervous. I had never done a book fair before and I was about to present myself to the city as a new author, with my first books. I had taken time to prepare everything so it would be just right, got myself mentally prepared for anything that might come, and was ready to step into the unknown. I was ready for any question; Where do you get your ideas? What age group is this good for? How long have you been writing? Why do you write? I had answers ready for them all, that is until a lady walked up to my table a hit me with a simple question that left me stumbling for a moment. "Who is the Calm Scribe?"
My first reaction was to simply say it is me, but then I started to wonder, is this an existential question? If so who are any of us? The name came to me the same way a lot of my stories do, out of the blue, yet it holds so much truth. I am connected to this name, this name describes me in a very personal way, it is rooted in my core. How do I explain to this lovely stranger all that is behind the name, behind me? The best way, I thought, would be to break it up.
I chose the word calm because it is one of my favorite words in the English language. I find it evokes the sensation it is describing. It starts with a hard chaotic "C" and ends with a smooth sounding "alm". So many instances in our life are hard and chaotic and make our energies sharp and choppy, making it difficult to think clearly. Staying calm allows us to deal with these issues like water. Flowing freely around an obstacle rather than try to fight it. If it can't moved around, staying calm allows one to slowly erode the issue or find a way to cope. I find the very word helps bring one out of chaos simply by saying it.
The other reason I chose calm is due to how I live my life. I used to be very active, always doing something, always moving, and always rushing from one thing to the next until a life changing incident forced me to slow down. I found myself needing to meditate and be mindful just to get through the days, and still do. I spend a lot of time trying to keep my energy and system calm and controlled, which is essential for me. It is through this calmer state that I watch the world and life unfold. This has allowed me to be open and have a new perspective that allows me to understand life in new ways. Which I hope translates to my writing.
The word was chosen because that is how I picture myself and a lot of other writers. Sure the ideas are mine, but the stories belong to my characters. Once the idea has been created, the characters will come and introduce themselves to me. We sit down and chat as they explain their past, their motivations, and their aspirations for the future. After I have met most of the main characters and we are familiar with each other, they begin to tell me their story. I may interject and offer ideas from time to time, but I usually allow them to let the story unfold. If I push too hard or try to control too much they get mad and may stop talking to me for a while.
Once the story is out and on paper, the characters recede to live their lives in the world we created, only to come out once in a while in the editing process to verify any questions I may have. It is in this way that the story is laid out and created. From time to time I will have a rough idea in my head as to how the story all ends, yet the characters don't always do what I expect them to, as can be seen in the short story Humanity. It started as a deer hunting a hunter and turned into what it is now; a powerful short piece, that leaves you slightly rattled with, hopefully, some new views on life.
It is in this way that I am a scribe, simply passing on the stories as they have been told to me by my characters. The calmer I am, the easier the process.
I could not say all of this to the owner of the question standing in front of me holding one of my books. I had already receded into my mind for long enough and I can sense her interest in my answer starting to fade the longer she has to wait for it. I smile at her and say "I am the Calm Scribe and these are some of my books."
I can see her interest start coming back. "I chose the name because I meditate every day and try to maintain an open mind. It helps me when thinking about my stories."
She smiles at me and the topic shifts to the books and what they are about, while I am left to think about this simple encounter that carried so much weight behind it.
Travis J. Croken