Friday, October 11, 2013

What's Under Your Bed?

Queue background music from Jaws…da…dum…da…dum…
dadum.. Dadum, DaDum!

Under my bed are a few dust bunnies (okay, maybe more than a few) and my first, oh, fifteen tries at writing. And Oh. My. God, were they scary to look at! Why, they scare themselves just like the fierce little monster above. (Come to think of it, he resembles me watching a scary movie... like Star Wars. Yeah, I know.)

Lately, I’ve been REcontemplating the writing process, something that happens whenever I start to doubt my ability, my story, my existence, lol. So this was the impetus to find my favorite box of writing books which I’d misplaced after the MS River fiasco. Serendipitously, a little book by Heather Sellers, Chapter after Chapter, jumped out of the box and into my hands.

I’d left off reading quite some time ago so I flipped to where the dust jacket was primed, to the chapter on Serious Writer Man. “When we’re unsure, or in quicksand, in order to deal with the fear of the unknown, we suit up and call on Serious Writer Man, but it’s fake…and always produces weak writing…When we’re driven to please, to fit in, to try to be heard, (to write for the wrong reasons) we’re prone to producing work that rings hollow. We don’t trust the greatness within us.”


And…”Serious Writer Man must never be allowed into our writing


This was followed by advice on counteracting the “I should” mechanism.

Ms. Sellers likens writing a book to swimming across a vast lake. It’s scary and lonely. The swimmer is doing fine when she’s stroking, not worrying about the other side being far, far away, or what she should be doing. Every so often she stops and reassesses and then keeps going. She said we need to replace “’Should’ with curiosity and attention to the tiniest details. If I cup my hands will I swim faster? If I write in present tense, do things flow differently?”

Ironically, when I go back to some of my earliest serious attempts at writing, I find a fun freshness to the writing - not so many contrivances and attempts to style my writing to fit a mold or please anyone but me.

So what’s under your bed? What were some of your early stories about? Have you considered pulling any of them out to revise and submit? Which ones the scariest artistically? Did you always write in the same genre as you do currently, or did you explore your limits?
And most of all, when you re-read some of your earliest work, what do you see in those honest clueless samples of your voice? Has any of it resurfaced in the more advanced versions of your voice or style?

And readers, what’s beside your bed? Tell us what you like about what you’re reading lately? Did you ever make a stab at storytelling? Tell me about it. I hope you kept it somewhere precious, because everything we create is an opportunity to tap into our own unique soul center.