Friday, January 04, 2008

Much Rambling and Many Questions

I have been thinking a lot about writing lately. For many years I have had the desire to write a novel. Most of my friends are aware that I have a love for historical romance and have been attempting to write a novel in that genre with questionable dedication.

I opened up some files containing bits of stories or even a decent start to one version of a story I have been rewriting for nearly half my life. I laughed at the ludicrous melodrama and nearly schoolgirl-like descriptions and interactions between characters. I found some interesting parts of each story, but again they are all wrong and obviously contrived. The voice isn't really mine, the plots unclear to me, the characters too flat and shallow and so on and so forth.

Last night I wrote a page of questions for myself in the hopes I could strip away all the crap and get to the truth of the matter. Perhaps most important of all questions is: Why do I write? All other questions stem from that simple, yet profound question. Sometimes I wonder at my motivation to write. I have encountered masterly storytellers who weave seductive, magical, glittering worlds and people with breathtaking capacity to evoke emotions, images and thoughts with words and I am neither the former nor latter. Still, I have been told I am a good writer at various points in my life.

Writing does require more than weaving a story or evoking emotions requires the ability to convey mundane and jarring truths. Do I know enough of human nature? Do I know a place enough to share all it's charms, idiosyncrasies, the underbelly, how a person is shaped by the character of the land or city in which he or she lives? Have I been a keen observer or lost in my own delusions and fantasies? Do I actually listen? Do I really know anyone?

I am best at constructing questions for myself that are in all likelihood entirely unnecessary and a means to avoid doing, as I fear doing in many aspects. I fear not living up to the expectations of family and friends who believe in me. I fear not living up to my own dubious expectations. I actually fear writing a decent novel and the prospect of writing another and another with the expectation they will surpass the previous.

In the end, the fears and expectations are all meaningless and perhaps only doing is what matters. I have begun to see that any writing--here on this blog, in my personal journal, random notes, correspondence--is doing. I feel I am changing my perception of who I am, what my place is, where I wish to go, what I want to do, still I have a gnawing need to express myself. I write because I am freer and more assured in writing than in person. I am desperately uncertain and disjointed in person and will say things that boggle me in reflection for being so inaccurate, inarticulate and false. My body language is not fluid or natural because I feel my body is foreign—there is a disconnect from what I think and feel and what I do. I come off as aloof because I feel unable to express myself properly. In writing I am comfortable and I can in that moment be whole.

It is high time I integrate everything and be a bit less of an awkward, jittery marionette in person. I imagine that if I stopped detaching from and being ashamed of my body much would improve, even my writing. I can't even imagine the difference it would make, but it is well worth finding out....

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