Saturday, March 17, 2007

Get Real

I've probably whined--I mean, blogged--about this before, but one of Steve's recent blogs and something I did the other day brought it up again.

See, I've been looking through my many works-in-progress, trying to figure out which one to focus on (get out of my lazy funk and finish something already) and I came across something interesting. I hadn't touched a number of my files for some time, and some of the ones I'd remembered as being good, were fairly blah--a few even downright bad. But there was one that I remembered as being boring crap, which actually held my attention and made me care about the characters in just a few pages. I was surprised, because I had abandoned that work some time ago on the basis that it was too boring.

After some contemplating, I realized why I thought it was much better than the others upon re-reading. It was written from real emotion, based on deep feelings that I had experienced, and that made it ring true. The situation was complete fiction (a selkie and a summer cottage) but the emotion was real, and that made all the difference.

Everywhere, I find the advice to "dig deeper" - go for the gut emotional appeal. It takes courage to do that. I find it very hard (being such a coward and all.) I've abandoned other works because the emotional toll was so great, and I'm a little suspicious that may have been what was truly behind my abandoning the selkie story. It wasn't boring - it was painful.

So I applaud those of you who dig deep, look closer, pull out the hard truths and put them out there for everyone to see. Good on ya.


avery said...

I wrote something a little while ago on my MySpace blog about friends who were talking about getting therapy to rid themselves of it and how horrified I was at the thought of purging myself of those emotions. They're good fuel.

Pain is where it's at. Pain's good. Make it your friend.

Kate S said...

LOL, thanks, Avery. Not sure I'm so masochistic as that. :)
Although, I think I need to learn to be.

A writer friend told me many years ago that her best work came when she picked the scabs off old wounds and let them bleed all over the page. Ugh. But cheaper than therapy, I suppose. :)

Susan Miller said...

Steve's blog is amazing to me. I just recently visited it and was in awe of his total dedication to his it was such an integral part of his being. And yes, truth...but that is such a relative term, although we may not want it to be. My writing reveals truths to me, which ensures great fun and sometimes tears when I am doing it "real".

Off the subject...I watched a movie last night and thought of you. "Stranger than Fiction" is a lighthearted comedy. The narrator is a writer in which I can definitely identify. There's a point she's at a hospital trying to find dieing patients so she can figure out a way to kill her main character. Her chain smoking, sitting in the rain habits are most likely why a novel would not be good for my life right now. That would be me. You may enjoy the movie, Kate.

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember a line from Kirk in a Star Trek movie, where he says. "I don't want my pain taken away. I NEED my pain." Good advice for writers, mayhaps.

Steve Malley said...

It can be as difficult to tell the truth about first love or that perfect childhood safety of a mother's arms.

Telling the truth is like standing naked in front of strangers. Lots of us don't even want to stand naked in front of the mirror.

We're all cavefolk at heart, sitting around the fire in a night that's dark and wide, listening to the stories we tell each other. Every last person on this earth is pretty sure they're alone in the dark at the edge of that campfire, watching the others from a little distance.

The tribe's stories let us forget, for a little while, that we're alone in our skulls. They connect us, in terror, delight, anger, laughter. They connect us.

Telling the truth's scary as hell, but do it anyway. The closer to the bone you go, the more the rest of us around the campfire will wonder at how you see our secret souls.

Sorry about the length of the comment. Could've been a post all its own, and I think a fair bit of it was advice to myself. Congratulations on getting the story running again...

Happy writing!

Kate S said...

Thanks, Susan. Isn't that movie with Emma Thompson? I love her.

Charles, on an unrelated note, did you see SQTs video with Kirk and Spock? Sick and hilarious.

Steve, thanks for the thoughtful post. Good advice and well written.

S* said...

I guess I'm the weird one. I do my best writing when I'm happy. I just can't write in the midst of pain. I need to work through it, overcome it and get to a happy place with new found perspective before I can even think of using it.