I’ve been doing family things this last week and I’m completely behind on my posts. I went to Boston what was already almost two weeks ago to read at the Cambridge Public Library (a story or two there but I’ll get to that later this week) and visit some bookstores and fencing salles. Then of course there was Thanksgiving. And my son finished his video of occupy wall street (to come later this week also).
And I’ve been reading, in the planning phase for my next book. I just finished Six Weeks, by John Lewis-Stemple and I reread A Storm in Flanders by Winston Groom (the man who wrote Forest Gump). I’m writing little pieces in Scrivener, creating the world bit by bit. A very different process for me than Open Wounds. But then, things change, writing process, life, many things. I’m in that kind of mood.
So I was listening to a lot of car radio, NPR to be exact. I love the talk shows when I drive. I heard Fran Drescher being interviewed last week and couldn’t help myself from frantically scribbling down what she said because I thought it so appropriate to writers.
“Turning pain into purpose is extremely healing.”
Now I should give this context. She was talking about her Cancer Schmancer movement. I heard it speak to me as a writer. Andrew Smith’s blog addressed this not too long ago and I thought what he said and the comments posted from that day to be very deeply felt and true. I think that so many of us write because it is healing and there is pain to heal. But does that mean you need to have had a crappy life filled with sorrow in order to find the right notes in your work? I don’t think so, but then on the other hand if you want to write deep work it helps to have been there. I think it depends on what you want to write. I remember some Frank Sinatra bio (hey… I like Fran Sinatra’s voice – he’s got a great voice – so cut me some slack) I saw on TV a long long time ago. I don’t remember the name of the film or the stars but I do remember one scene in the movie early on when he’s just starting to sing. He’s told by a nightclub owner that he has a great voice but that it has no feeling to it. The man says, go on out and live some and then come back when you can understand what the words mean. It made an impression on me.
As someone who has lived long enough to have had my share of loss (the longer you life the more you experience – that’s just the way it works) and probably a few extra thrown in just to make my life more interesting, I can say I didn’t write the hard stuff well, until life had happened. My understanding of my character’s pain deepened and my ability to write about it got better.
This has been my process.
Would I choose an easier one if I could?