Sunday, January 13, 2013

Something That Makes You Uncomfortable to Write

Hi friends of reading and writing,

Maria Popova, in her online magazine BrainPickings, has written about F. Scott Fitzgerald's correspondence with aspiring young writers this month.  He advises them that writing well is hard and may require you to invent a new form to fit the exigencies of your urgent message.  He also says that the stronger your technique is, after years of practice, you can write about anything.  But early on, while you're a writer-in-progress, you need the power of pain and bewilderment, anguish, misery to propel a story and make the reader sit on the edge of her chair.  So you have to use those things you'd rather not bring up, rather not delve into, definitely don't want to write about for public consumption.  Only those things carry the emotional weight you need.

My friend Gayle Brandeis suffered though a time of excruciating emotional turmoil in her life when her mother committed suicide soon after the birth of her child.  She wrote about it in ways that gave readers some sense of her feelings.  Why should something so specific, that almost certainly does not match what each reader is going through, have such power to attract and hold the reader?  I think it's the authenticity.  When the emotions are raw and powerful, the writer does not pretend or posture, but just tries her best to capture them. They come through and resonate with times each of us has experienced those types of emotions, whether or not they were elicited by the same events.

So don't hide away the secret events of your life.  Get them out of your brain's deep freeze, remember and re-experience the emotions, and write them into your work, whether it is fiction or non-fiction.


No comments: