Saturday, August 6, 2011

Up? or Down?

Depending on its length and complexity, the narrative story has at least one elephant on hand in its living room.  The writer may be the last to discover it.  With some frequency, these observations relate to and describe you.

The elephant is, in fact, discovery; you, in fact, write many things to find out why you were motivated to do so in the first place.  Even when you write things as a direct result of some assignment or, as in the case of your obligation for a book review of a thousand or more words per week since early 2005, you invariably discover something you had not connected before the writing began.

All of this is to say that writing for you is certain to be a connective process, bringing together pairs of opposites, competing forces or theories, or themes which at first blush seemed disparate.  It is further to acknowledge that discovery is an important ingredient even after you have discovered a larger, more global reason for having written a particular piece.  In many instances, the discovery you are aiming at is the discovery that you could, in fact, write about a particular subject or draw two seemingly separate subjects to some point of connectivity.  In this case, the discovery is the happy note of proving to yourself that you could acquit yourself with some measure of satisfaction.  Yet other discoveries include the glowing resonance of seeing how a process works, including the process of a particular individual's particular motivation.

There is another, more delicious discovery in which you have gotten away with something, perhaps something naughty, just as well something one or more persons came down hard against as being difficult to the point of impossibility.  Who would not cherish the feeling of doing the impossible?  You surely do.

It may lead to momentary humiliation or self-reproach to recognize you've only just discovered some item or awareness you wish you'd known twenty-five years--even fifty years ago.

We write to discover who we are, what our friends and associates are, which associations we have followed too blindly or with too little devotion and enthusiasm.  We write to discover what triggers our enormous fondness for lemon meringue pie; just when you think you understand your fondness for banana cream pie (your father's favorite), you understand your urgency to be more what he was, but you also understand that you have been paying unrealized  homage to him.

You write to discover how little you know about the things you believe you know the most.  You write to identify yourself to your writing self, the better to get along with all the individuals you write about.  You write to discover how each individual feels at times as separate and removed as you, thus creating a closeness you often ignore entirely.

The discovery of how things work and do not work should be as well defined in your stories as the characters in them and their relationships with one another and the Cosmos.

You write to discover your bigotry, to expose it rather than cover it up because in the act of disguising it, you are hiding things of yourself from you.

You write to discover how to listen; only through listening to "them," your characters, can you get any sense of how much a shaping force it is to love something, to pursue it, to make it a part of you rather than trying to pull prepositions on it, which is to say showing it up or talking it down.

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