Archive for March 2013
I wrote two weeks ago about some struggles I was having with a piece of writing. In particular, I was ranting on the self-serving evil that memoir can sometimes be. Seems I needed to get that out of my system and make some kind of declaration about my real intentions so that I could move forward with the piece in question. Maybe it was a sort of permission-granting thing wherein I needed to allow myself to write some non-fiction that was about me. Whatever it was, it worked. I’ve been working pretty steadily on the piece for the past two weeks. But that was only one of a set of problems with the writing.
I’m having trouble right now telling the truth. I’m not lying–but I’m trying to find ways around telling the whole truth in the story, kinda like I’m reaching around my elbow to scratch my ass. The result has been inflated, self-serving writing. I can tell because I was feeling too good while writing it.
So why not just tell the truth? It’s complicated. I don’t want to expose my vulnerabilities to the reader. I don’t want to deal with the emotional impact of what I’m writing about. I don’t want to write something that will “come back” on me in some unexpected way. Sounds like I’m looking over my shoulder, doesn’t it? I guess I am in some ways. I want to get published, and when it is about me and other people see it, things can get complicated. Students and parents and untrustworthy school administrators can make their own interpretations of it. This hasn’t happened to me to a significant degree, nor do I want it to. But the risk is there.
So how to deal with it? The truth has to come out–otherwise, what’s the point in writing? This was lost somewhere along the way as I’ve been writing much more fiction and poetry in the last few years than I have non-fiction. The truth has to come out. What I decided to do was start the story with the truth I was having the most trouble expressing:
I don’t know what Catherine wants, other than to beat me at basketball.
That seemed to kick me into gear, and since I was sufficiently direct (but still a little vague), I found I could move forward with the story. What’s more is that I can keep coming back to that point throughout the story, along with a few other truths that I’m working on. What’s more more is that I’m telling the truth in a way in which I am comfortable and still protective of myself.
Writing didn’t used to be like this. I loved to pepper my prose with “fuck” and “shit” and a whole host of other dandies since I tend to talk that way more times than not. I didn’t think much about including lurid details about whatever story, or talking about crazy and even stupid things I did. So I guess now I have a conscience. Since I want to be published and am aware of the possible dark side, I’ve adjusted my writing. It may be a move I needed to make all along. Regardless, I’ve now made it.