Saturday, December 12, 2009

Danger for writers

One of my teachers/friends is working on a book about writing into danger, and it has made me think about how writing pushes me into dangerous places I don't want to visit. Writing memoir, I find that the part I want to summarize in a post-facto conversation is usually the dangerous heart of the problem. In writing fiction, my characters try to do the same thing. It's my job to look over their shoulders and say, "No! Tell me exactly what happened, word for word, action for action, when you told him you were pregnant. Don't tell me how you told your girlfriend later about the encounter!" I can only account for the characters having the same danger-avoidance by noticing that they often deal with issues I've brushed under my rug earlier. Having them explore and feel the agonies of the moment gives me some aha moments about my own life. But there's pain, embarrassment, misunderstanding, rejection buried in those quiet mounds and if you dig there, it will hurt in the short term, no matter how much insight for the long term you may unearth.