When we became teenagers boredom grew like a moth in a cocoon fighting to escape, and the peace created by our parents became a prison. We sought excitement and adventure. We sought anything but the sinless, pure, and average of the faux idyllic.
Southerners. Such literate, civilized folk, such charm and cleverness and passion for living, such genuine interest in people, all people, high and low, white and black, and yet how often it had come to, came to, was still coming to vicious incomprehension, usually over race but other things too - religion, class, money. How often the lowest elements had burst out of the shadows and hollers, guns and torches blazing, galloping past the educated and tolerant as nightriders, how often the despicable had run riot over the better Christian ideals... how often cities had burned, people had been strung up in trees, atrocities had been permitted to occur and then, in the seeking of justice for those outrages, how slippery justice had proven, how delayed its triumph. Oh you expect such easily obtained violence in the Balkans or among Asian or African tribal peoples centuries-deep in blood feuds, but how was there such brutality and wickedness in this place of church and good intention, a place of immense friendliness and charity and fondness for the rituals of family and socializing, amid the nation's best cooking and best music... how could one place contain the other place?
Raw Living: Picking blackberries, beneath late afternoon sun; a sunset reminiscent of watermelon sangria, as the scent of honeysuckle accosts me and the ducks waddle into the lake. Thanking Mama Nature for her abundance. Loving this candied-sweet southern life.
Humans need each other for equilibrium and support. But writers must pull aside to take a quiet walk alone, not just for the sake of serenity but to hear the Voice inside. That is how the storyteller connects with with others--listen, write, share.
Because of sorrow, my awareness of life's pulse is strongly detectable. It is syncopation while I journey, a lap of ocean in the eyes of every person I meet. This awareness informs the flesh of my stories. Grief has been an odd companion, at first a terror, but now I am all the better having accepted it for its intrinsic worth.
By the standards of a tourist strolling past looking for a quick lunch, the place was a dive. The sign on the window was small and easy to miss, and the antique feel of the place wasn't the prepackaged, old-shit-on-the-wall nostalgia that came with so many chain restaurants. The cafe was just old, and everything about it said old. But Jon liked it that way, if only because it kept the tourists away and spared him from hearing imported ignorance when there was plenty of local ignorance to go around.
She opened up the glass jar she kept spare buttons in and began sorting through them. It was like handling bits and pieces of the past—buttons from loved ones’ dresses and suits and coats carefully gathered up and saved for future use. She had inherited many of the buttons from her mother and grandmother, even her Great Aunt Maggie. Each woman adding to the collection, like curators of a family museum. Now what would happen to them?
Facing the sagging middle when writing a novel, while inevitable, may be overcome by pre-planning. I divide my collection of proposed scenes into three acts, each scene inciting tension that builds toward the final crisis in Act Three. If by Act Two the emotional river isn't spilling over the banks, I reassess the plot so that once the writing is flowing I don't slide into a dry creek. The central character should be struggling to navigate life well into the end of Act One, even if her fiercest antagonist is only from within.
While writing the first draft is an exercise in shutting down all of the things we think we know so that the story features come tumbling out, the revision is the end of the joy ride. We pull on the gloves and sort of poke around inside the body. Is that a tumor? Will that limb need amputation? I nearly second-guessed myself into heart failure while learning to self-edit.
The confessional writer will treat her story like a wailing wall. She kneels, and her story spills out, messy, improper. It isn’t a protest or even graffiti, but her story is an offering of things that she overlooked or notices that others have overlooked. She is in danger of exposure but she remembers when she lived in hiding and that was worse. She cannot turn back now because this is how life has spun out of her, part vexing passage and part prayer.
I started out hoping to remind people at some point in the novel that we should be loving and kind. But then the theme usurped my life, spilling over into my novels until love was no longer a small voice, but now my purpose as a writer.
The confessional writer will treat her story like a wailing wall. She kneels, and her story spills out, messy, improper. It isnt a protest or even graffiti, but her story is an offering of things that she overlooked or notices that others have overlooked. She is in danger of exposure but she remembers when she lived in hiding and that was worse. She cannot turn back now because this is how life has spun out of her, part vexing passage and part prayer.