Posts Tagged ‘writing close to the bone’

Why Do We Write? Part II

July 7, 2010

I’ll call this entry “Part II” because somewhere in the last two years of this blog, I vaguely remember writing “Part I”.

We have just come back from a short vacation in Savannah, Ga.  An elderly relative just celebrated her 90th birthday, and this was something we couldn’t have missed.  Funny, the weather down there was around 81 degrees, while the weather we left here in Atlanta was 95 plus.  Back again, it’s 95 with a projection of 98 tomorrow.

While I was away I had a lot of time just to think, and NOT to write.  And that brings me to this issue of why we write.  That is, those of us who have fallen into the pit of thinking we are writers or actually publishing our works.

Being around family, and a family that is not supportive of my writing (except some of the poetry that is ‘nice’)…made me think of the obstacles one faces as one tries to develop into a writer.  To say  they aren’t supportive of my writing is probably an understatement:  my first book, “A Seasoning of Lust” was  full of erotica.  I am sure they would have seen it (if they read it) as a ticket to their particular Hell.    Fortunately, I have become tougher than to bow to their particular literary standard.

But this is just one aspect of what we stumble across when we decide that perhaps we are writers.  For a number of years, I was on an erotica site, learning some basics of writing and how to critique other writing.  It was a necessary step and a good one, but it also limited my choices as a writer.  I had to sum up some of the influences there, and there were quite a lot of things to sum up.  Some writers were hacks.  Some wrote horrific extreme bdsm works that fed their own sexual urges, some wrote some good and expansive erotica.  But it all was tailored to erotica, and if you hankered for something broader, different…well, you had to leave or adjust your interests.

I left.  I left after a few years, but there are writers there I remember fondly and with good reason.  But in a way, erotica is a trap.  Perhaps we grow out of the theme, realize there is more to writing and life than our genitals.  Or other people’s genitals.

There are a couple of friends there still that seem frozen in place.  They are wonderful writers, and they learned a lot from that particular site.  But they write the same things over and over, or perhaps with some nuances of difference, but come on….how many different ways can you describe the ‘act’?  Of course, the best there do so much more….layer this particular theme with other parts of interest, but in a way…at least to me….they could be doing more with their writing.

One fellow in particular has developed to such a level that his writing is generally praised.  But it’s preaching to the choir there, and unless he finds the courage to strike out and take himself more seriously….he will short change his writing.  He knows this, but for some damn reason, he doesn’t see just how good he is as a writer.  He goes far beyond a writer of erotica.  Or could.

I have no real answer as to “Why do we write?”.  I barely know why I do.  But over the years, I have realized it is an art form that allows me a lot of expression and freedom.  It has also pushed me into a maturity that I don’t think I would have come to without this form.  And I have gained a lot of confidence with my writing.

I don’t suffer fools silently anymore.  I use my words…and some of them bad ones.

I’m working on two manuscripts this summer.  “White Cranes of Heaven” which is purely poetry, and “Memories of a Rotten Childhood”, which are mostly funny and poignant stories that are close to the bone.  Bill Penrose, the wonderful man and writer who does the production on my previous two books, told me something early on when I first met him:  “Write with an eye to the truth of it all, and damn the naysayers.” I don’t think one could get better advice for a new and wobbly writer.

“Memories of a Rotten Childhood” will not sit well with my birth family.  Tough.  They don’t read my books anyway.  But they are good fodder for the memories because they were part of the mix, and I am following what Bill said.  They will recognize themselves because it can’t be helped.  They were part of the building blocks of childhood.

Being ‘truthful’ to your experience is important:  you are weaving stories of memorance, and in some cases, they will strike a resonance with others.  That has impact because drawing those lines to each other makes for a stab at our collective humanity.

Maturing in any case means breaking other’s concepts about you.   You take chances but honor  the vision you have or are developing, whether it’s of the past or the present. You begin to embrace your values and realize they were part of the process of becoming independent.

In any case, it’s relying on your own developing standards and finding the courage to ignore those who would shut you up.  Perhaps we write because it gives us voice in a particular way.

Lady Nyo

From the wip:  “White Cranes of Heaven”, to be published 2011.

ALLURING MOON

The moon sits moored

In a midnight sea,

Clouds sweep her face

Shading a pale, wavering beacon

As she tugs at her moorings

And floats

Across the upended bowl of Heaven-

Into the harbor of dawn.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

September, 2009


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