Thursday, July 4, 2013

Autobiographical Writings: The Self revised

In case you hadn't considered the matter for some time, yesterday's observations served to remind you how large a part autobiography plays in your attempts to define the worlds about you and delve with greater certainty into the worlds within you.

At one time in your life, about the time of your late twenties and early thirties, you sought ways of making a living from your writing.  Now, some years later, you seek to make writing from your living, which is to say you seek ways to allow the influences of experience free access to your inner processes.

Autobiography is in fact a biased approach to rearranging the events of your life, imparting understanding, reason, insight into places where, in actual event, they were lacking to the degree you'd hoped. Fiction is a greater embellishment, an approach where characters already function at levels you'd had to fight your way through and are now faced with problems and decisions more in keeping with the plateaus you are impatient to achieve now.

In short, you are impatient to the degree you see your time running out.  Of course you often forget that from the moment you began trying to take some charge of the landscape you understood to be you, time was running out, could in theory and actuality have run out at any moment.  

A you,residing in some kind of existential denial,once had expectations of moving ahead or forward in progress on the basis of your past experiences.  These, you reasoned, were surely enough to keep you moving while at the same time taking in the sights.

Nights spent traversing the deserts, bound to fabled destinations where you would encounter literary experiences and destiny, were filled with an anticipation so intense that you often missed the shadows, the phases of the moon, the lights arriving from stars that had burned out and died hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years ago.  

Now, nights are more apt to be spent here at your keyboard or traversing the neighborhood for your evening walk, awed and amazed by the distances of stations in the universe, distances between things understood and barely fathomed, stunned by the sheer number of things necessary to be learned and to keep yourself aware of.

A book you've written contains some three hundred seventy-five terms related in one way or another to the craft of relating story, things as straightforward and practical as Mark Twain's essay, "How to Tell a Story," and such stretchers as synecdoche and verb tenses to be used in interior monologue.  You could, with enough time and ale or wine, argue how any given scene in a dramatic narrative requires all three hundred seventy-five elements and the possibility of even more.

Enter the humbling and rewarding task of revision, which helps you see the original vision and have a potential for capturing it with words and concepts so that it will have a similar effect of the light being seen in the desert, coming from distant stars.

Autobiography is a form of revising your life, not in the sense of altering its beginnings, middles, and endings, rather by rephrasing it, you might get a better glimpse of the light source you once were, what changes you have endured, what your experiences meant and what they now mean.

As a writer and teacher, you have the opportunity to replay aspects of your understanding, subjecting it to differing points of view as represented by your characters, interpreting your experiences on a wider spectrum that you were able to grasp when first presented with the experience.

This is by no means an ambition to relive your life in order to change outcomes, instead a desire to see if you've missed understandings and appreciations, in particular as they relate to your motives.

Two of your favored landscapes are seaside, in particular the Pacific Coast from about the Big Sur northward to the beaches along the Oregon Coast, and the wide swath of desert roughly between Los Angeles and Santa Fe.  They are both of incalculable beauty and variety.  One is no better than the other; each is a distinct personality, a distinct set of potentials, waiting to be seen and understood.

You wish to travel your inner landscapes as you have traveled these two settings, a pilgrim in search of light and understanding and potential.


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