Sunday, November 1, 2009

writing around

Lately I have felt like I've been writing around the story I really want to tell. I also feel like it's time I throw out a few ideas that have hindered me:

1. I took a class on Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Hemingway in college and after reading Fitzgerald's short story "Winter Dreams" and comparing it to Gatsby, my professor said that Fitzgerald once said something like: Every writer has just one story and they spend their lives retelling it. I know I forgot loads of other quotes and interpretations but I can't shake that idea that I have only one story to tell.

2. My mom will hate whatever I write if there isn't a happy ending. I don't know that that's actually true. And if my mom doesn't hate it, my dad will, or my brother or my sister or my best friend or my high school English teacher or my in-laws will. The thing is, when I sit down to write and they are crowding my head, clucking disapproval or not speaking to me again because I embarrassed them with my sham of a story, it is really difficult to write anything.

I know a lot of writing books devote time to dealing with the "editors" in our heads. I try to remember that when I sit at my laptop or at my open notebook. Sometimes I feel very choked and think that perhaps I should put off writing anything until everyone I know is dead.

3. I don't feel ready to write about some things. I really want to write about teaching and what I learned from the six years I spent in the classroom. I also really want to write about my two years in Colombia. Sometimes I want to write about church camp because it's a place that can strengthen or weaken a young person's faith and I have mixed feelings about my own week there each summer. But I am not quite prepared to write about any of these things yet. Maybe church camp. I could write about that. Really, I could write about teaching and Colombia too and not worry about everything being correct yet. I could write my memories and revise refine later, double checking journals. Maybe it would feel good to put these things on paper since I've been saying No, not now to them for awhile.

So there you have it. I need to let go of that comment my professor said, quit worrying about what anyone will think if my words actually find their way to the published page, and write what I want even if I'm not sure I'm telling it the right way yet. Well, that sounds easy.


The Laughing Mouse said...

I think *your* one story to tell, is YOUR story. The story of your experiences. Think Under the Tuscan Sun. That's a great movie, developed from a great book, a non-fiction book. Personally, I feel like I haven't experienced enough to be able to write more than one or maybe two non-fiction stories. But Novels, ohhh, novels I can do. So, do what your blog says, get some words on paper. I want to get an email telling me all the things you DON'T remember about Colombia. (I loved doing that exercise in the old friend book) :D Have a great day!!

Joie said...

Yes, those same critics crowd my brain too, whenever I sit down to write a song. I'm learning that I need to just write- for me. I used to write songs with people in mind- people who I hoped to please with my songs. Then I heard Sara Groves say in an interview, that she had always just written about what was on her heart - just for herself, and she never dreamed that she'd make a living on performing her music for others. That was refreshing for me- to just write for me. And now, when I write something I really like, I say it's 'for' someone- but only after I've written it, not before. It's been helpful for me to quit trying to please others when I write songs.
and- I'm pretty sure that we'll all appreciate what you write, it's YOUR story and we DO want to hear it. Your creativity and ability to describe things with words is a gift from God and He intends for you to use it and to find joy in it and to bring Him joy through what you write too. Don't wait for us to die off, ok?! :)