Friday, February 11, 2011

Why do I write?

Headed off to second writing class tonight.  I was late.  Again.  How can I not be working and somehow late to just about every scheduled thing I have this week?  Anyway, I come in and everyone's clearly already been given an opening writing assignment.  I check in with Hanna, our facilitator.  I'm meant to spend ten minutes responding to the questions of why I write, or want to write.  This time, I'm going into it fully aware that she's likely to ask me to read this.  And I'm going to make an attempt not to cry in class this time.  I go right to everything that's been going on with me this week.  All that introspection about struggling to express my emotions and to open up.

I find it hard expressing my emotions in a conversation.  I can always tell you waht I think.  But what I feel?  That's another matter.  On paper, though, I feel safe to say things I wouldn't think of feeling in "real" life.  Anger.  Sadness.  Jealousy.  I'm free to want things.  Through my own thoughts on the page directly, or through a character I can manipulate to be the things I want to be.  Or are afraid I am.

The written word also seems to allow me to think through what I'm feeling.  How I'm connecting to what I'm writing.  I can't always assess my emotional state and then articulate live. With the written word you can flow directly from head to pen to paper.  No filter required.  No emotional dam that's blocking something that might be the "wrong" thing to say.  Or think.  Or feel.  But writing?  Well, that can always be changed later.  Edited.  Evaluated.

I joined this class thinking that I wanted to write about my experiences.  BUt those ideas cenetered around the tactical.  How to.  Step by step.  But when I sit down and start to write I'm consistently going to the emotions.  The feelings behind the steps.  The story.  The heart.  But I find myself wanting to move to a fictionalized version of what I want to say.  Something one degree removed from myself.  My baggage.  Those hidden emotions I've so successfully buried.

It was so interesting to hear others' responses to the task.  I identified with something in each one of them.  And these aren't necessarily people I'd make easy conversation with in a bar.  Or anywhere for that matter.  But, in a weird way, they're each a kindred spirit.  Each of us with a unique story to tell.

A couple of the guys had their material read in class this week, and it was really helpful to hear it read allowed and then critique.  One was a memoir, and one fiction.  I took away a few key points, that I'll try to employ in my writing.
  1. I really liked when I could picture something in a story being told.  I realized I play the story in my mind, and when I can't I'm not as engaged.
  2. People want to connect to a character early.  They want to know who to care about, even amongst a big cast of characters.
  3. Introducing a conflict can pull in a reader, such that they're interested in reading to hear what happens next.
  4. Point of view is important.  If you're struggling, try changing the point of view that your material is written from.  Oddly, I'm finding myself doing this.  I set out to write some personal stories, and it's way easier if I write it from a fictional character's perspective (even if it's clearly me).
Do you have a creative outlet?  If so, why do you do "it"?  If not...dude.  You should.  Seriously.  Hasta, sabbaticaljo

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