Thursday, June 14, 2012
Truth is especially important in fiction where the world is made in the image of its creator, yet shines a light on who we are in our failings and triumphs. Make-up all the scenarios and characters you want, but if they aren't based in truth, if they don't pass muster for believability based on what the reader knows as truth, then what have we added, but noise?
Fiction, good fiction, mirrors our goodness, our evilness, our trying to get things right, our screwing everything up. It can serve as a compass or an admonishment, but in order to lay claim to acknowledging what we are, the truth must be present.
The truth. The hard truth. The real truth. The plain truth.
Truth, even when it's painful. Yet, not the kind of truth you think of when cattiness sharpens its claws or when someone accepts no fault when they just told the truth, when in fact they meant to twist the dagger in a beating heart.
I mean the kind of truth that matters. The kind of truth that expands who we are or can become.
In one particular story, I'm having trouble with the truth. I find I censor myself in my writing as I get ever closer to telling the truth because of the hurt I know it will cause, or may cause, or should cause if some see themselves.
Censoring then leads to being unsure of what to put in truth's place which then leads me to a frustrated painful constipation of words; to not tell the truth, to fill in the space with something close but not quite, brings me to a standoff between peace and betrayal.
Knowing the truth is the easy part; writing the truth takes a defiant constitution against opposition.
I hesitate to proceed, I strain against recording the truth, because it's my constitution that will have to withstand the defiance, and I'm not entirely ready to bear that burden.
To know, yet not to write the truth, grieves me. In my hesitant frustration, I tell myself, "Screw the art of telling, it's the complicated art of living while encumbered that wins this day, while adding a depth to the next." (rationalize, much?)
And this day.
My writing legacy may mean something only to me, this agony may mean something only to me, but even if I just left one sentence behind, I demand the truth be present.
I owe the reader that much.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
To my delighted surprise, as I read his book My Reading Life, I saw how we're alike, I saw what Pat Conroy and I share: harsh words thrown like a hardball to the head by someone we admire, yet disregarded because their truth was not ours. This, mah babies, takes a courage that hurts to wield, because as writers we are rarely satisfied with our words, how we bind them together to form an image, a specific image, so you too can see what it is that pains us.
I take great solace in knowing that Pat's mentor, a man filled with the knowledge of books and words and greatness, said this about Pat's writing:
"You're never going to be a great writer. Not even a good one. You can aspire to mediocrity. Nothing else."
The Great Santini's Pat Conroy was told this by a man who knew him deeply and took great interest to foster Pat's future success as a writer that would leave his mark on the literary world, as a writer that other writers would use as their true north. Pat Conroy was told he was a mediocre writer.
When I read those words, I laughed the uncontrolled laugh of the deranged, because after all, if Pat Conroy is mediocre, where the hell does that leave me?
My take-away dove deeper still.
Pat Conroy is anything but mediocre. He is astonishing. I feel moved and surprised and awed every time I read his works. He use of language is poetic and inspiring. Thank God, he knew his own heart; he knew his own path. He resisted the overpowering voice of another to favor his own. We should all be so wise. That was my take-away, and should be yours, in whatever endeavor you feel is worthy of your efforts.
Pat wrote because he had something to say; he read to see himself.
"Writers of the world, if you've got a story, I want to hear it. I promise it will follow me to my last breath. My soul will dance with pleasure, and it will change the quality of all my waking hours. You will hearten me and brace me up for the hard days that enter my life on the prowl. I reach for a story to save my own life. Always."
This is why I write: to tell what must be told, to make sense of a world that makes no sense, to save my life.
Yes to all.
~big sigh of relief here~
As it is, right at this moment of putting words to blog that no one may read, I am drinking a fine Moscato in a goblet filled with frozen strawberries, because ice-cubes are so declasse, right? Doesn't matter, actually. I just like to eat the fruit as it thaws from the wine. Now picture that. Dipping my two fingers into the wide-mouthed goblet to chopstick out a half-frozen berry to then plop in my mouth.
Me thinks it doesn't get any more declasse than that. West Texas Declasse! But to be sure, perhaps we should check with the Baroness from the RHONY. She would shudder. no doubt.
Back to the gig.
I was asked to write a personal blog for a large paper. I did. I was happy for all of a year. I've been writing it for 2.5 years. Why so unhappy? To start, when I started with them, it was their beginning steps into the vast online Interwebs and I had more knowledge about how things worked than they. I was forever asking for blog numbers/stats/tracking, anythng to help me to make the blog a success.
What? You think it happens like magic? Um, no.
I became discouraged very soon on that they didn't seem as interested in the success of the blog, for them and me, as I did. Slowly, over the next year and a half, I became disconnected from the blog and essentially was calling it in. The passion had been chased out of me by their regulations and their unpredictability and quite honestly, their flakiness.
I is a serious blogger, dagnabit!
I thought about calling an end to this blog earlier, but my writery-self was skittish. Writers gonna write. Big paper = bigger audience. Yet, because I had no control over how it was presented, or when, the thought kept niggling at me to put out the "Gone Writing Somewhere Else" sign.
This week, they presented more changes that made my decision easier. I waited a day before sending in my resignation. I discussed my thoughts with an unbiased third party. I wasn't feeling pissed or angry or sad, all I felt was this is right. So I sent the letter and talked to the editor before my will ran away into the forest of second thoughts.
Yes, it's a gig I would have liked to keep. No, not under the circumstances offered this week.
Today was my last post. You can read it HERE.
Now what? I've jumped off the cliff. Do I have a chute? Will I land in the marshmallows? Or the prickly pear?
The one thing I do know is that when my heart and gut get together to haunt my dreams, telling me to move on from this, I should listen.
So I did.
I'm now the writer who gave up a gig.
Universe, be kind to me...
Monday, April 9, 2012
It's why I write.
Is one born to a purpose? I think so. Being a writer, documenting what I see as it translates to our connectedness, is mine. I'm most myself when communicating the silliness/horror/mundane of what I witness through words. My whole life I've been holding up a mirror to life, waiting for everyone else to see the gleeful audacity, the bond between us, that I see. Do you see it? Over there. THERE! You do?
That's why I write.
We're in this together, trying to survive it all, trying to be OK, trying to trust that we're not alone. Dear God, we pray we aren't alone.
Sharing the bits and pieces around me, trying to make sense of seemingly random moments that turn out to be not so random, laughing at the absurd (so much laughing), hollering through the pain of stumbling, or being brought to my knees from the sheer joy of an answered prayer...it's all pinging between my ears, neurons exploding from what needs to be shared, waiting to be tapped out on a page.
We want to know we aren't alone, that our experiences can be connected, that we aren't just floating around this life for nothing. We crave purpose. We crave meaning. We crave understanding from someone.
That's why I write.
I'm compelled to shine the light on the threads that connect us instead of the vast gulf that divides us.
We are stronger together, no matter how terrifying the flying debris appears or how soft the landing cushion feels. We are stronger when we know we aren't alone.
That's why I write.
You are not alone. You've got me.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Some days I feel my entire life has been spent knocking my head against a wall that refuses to crack. It pisses me off. Confuses me. Frustrates me. Depresses me. Yet, there I am pounding away.
The important stuff like being a good wife and partner or mother to Boy, those things come easily and rarely cause me to question my purpose. It's my ambition that has always been my bugaboo. For as long as I can remember. Even as far back as elementary school, I had laser focus on what it was I wanted. Problem was, they didn't let girls play sports. Fuckers.
So, I pound. I also wonder why I continue to pound. Wouldn't it be easier to conform? Hell, yes. Could I live with myself? Hell, no.
It's my thorn.
I have often looked at people who are much less complex that I, and have been envious. Why can't I be that person who doesn't follow world events, or isn't passionately engaged in the world, or doesn't care to think of matters deeper than next weekend?
What is the purpose to this madness? I have prayed deeply and for years about this matter and the word on the heavenly street is to get back to pounding. So, I do. Even though I don't understand it. Even though it infuriates me. Even though it ain't easy.
I pound, am pounding, will pound, have pounded.
My life's story in a conjugated verb.