9.07.2007

The Writing Evolution



I’ve seen a change in my writing during the past year. An evolution. Part of it because of the books I’ve been reading. In grown-up talk: you act like the kids you hang out with. Or in writer’s verse: you sound like who you read. Whether you mean to or not, these books become imbedded in your soul, their words flash across the screen of your mind like neon.

What did I read? The Mermaid’s Chair by Sue Monk Kid, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. Yes, I read many other books, but they felt like newsprint in my hands, disposable words written with ink that rubs off. These other writers, they wrote with tattoo needles, leaving beautiful scars on my flesh.

Sometimes I wish I could conjure their words when I am laying awake at night, that I could run my tongue over the smorgasbord of syllables and let their magic sing me to sleep.

So, this transformation of ideas works its way through the pressure cooker of my brain, flows down through the invisible path, the journey it must always take, through my arms to my fingers. At that point the words and thoughts are finally given freedom. I touch my thoughts to life. With pen or keyboard. With black and white.

Creator, awaken. Let the verses flow.

And just like certain books have influenced a Renaissance in me, so have certain pieces I’ve written. I can think of two in particular. One was a short story, an experimental piece I wrote about murder and betrayal, all within a very narrow physical space—within a courtyard—and all told through the viewpoint of a narcissistic flower. It opened the doors for a wide variety of metaphors and lovely language. It contained a dark, bitter beauty; one writer friend said it was poetic horror; my husband called it emotional violence.

Huh. Who would think a story about a flower could be so heavy.

The other piece was a painfully autobiographical essay about growing up in the turbulent ‘60s, when all my friends spent their free time in psychiatrict wards and drug rehab, when my parents played a duel of alcoholism and adultry, when I “survived” by running away at 15. I masked the sordid details, for there really were no other details available, and painted a colorful story of metaphors. It was dark, and yet, as beautiful as any tree decorated with bits of drying flesh. From a distance, it looks pretty. You’re just glad you weren’t there when they decorated the tree. That you didn’t have to watch.

Writing truly is an evolutionary process, it forces you to become something else, to inhabit your words and stories, to wear someone else’s flesh. It forces you to explore the world with a new opinion, often not your own, to momentarily accept what someone else believes.

It can be therapy, if you let it.

Or it can lead to your own destruction, inch by inch, as you stalk your ever elusive Muse.

But if you pursue it with passion, it will definitely force you to grow.

2 comments:

Eve said...

I'm trying to stalk mine now, lol. It has tried to leave me 3/4 of the way through my manuscript.

I shall follow its trail and hunt it down... :)

Merrie Destefano said...

Eve,
Chase it, hunt it, put it in a cage!

I wish you the best on your manuscript. I know I got writer's block on page 100, on my current WIP. I thought I'd never push through it. Kept giving myself goals. 150 pages. 200 pages.

Large projects can be really gnarly!

Blessings and thanks for stopping by-
:)