Writing Practice and the Muse who is ALWAYS THERE
Writing Leap #53
Feeling deeply what your characters fear and then using that understanding to create their actions is one way to make him or her breathe with authenticity. When I “looked my 9-year-old character in the eye” and asked her gently, “What are you afraid of, darling?” she revealed something that surprised me.
So sit down, get quiet, comfortable and non-judgmental with your characters and ask them with kindness, “Are you afraid of something?”
I asked myself this question a few hours after my recent shoulder surgery. When I tried to lift my arm up in my sling it was dead weight, a heavy sack of potatoes. “My arm is paralyzed,” I thought, envisioning a life as a true lefty without the use of her left arm. Images of a useless left arm and an awkward right one bombarded my imagination. I stopped breathing. I tried to lift my arm again. Worse. With my right hand I punched in dear Dr. Yasgur’s telephone number with effort. It was a baby’s hand learning how to land on the correct button and missing. My fears escalated.
“No, No, Cynthia. That’s the nerve block we gave you for your surgery. It will disappear in six to twelve hours.”
I relaxed my grip on the telephone and felt a tidal wave of relief.
Fears, irrational and real, can pop up anywhere. Discovering what our characters fear can be a way for us to find the subtleties in their behavior. Just ask them! If they say, “None of your business,” persist. Use your wily, writerly ways.
LINKING THE ARTS
The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. Workman Publishing Co. N.Y. 2010
An indispensable, glorious book for writers and my new go-to for clear insights into the world of writers, agents, editors and publishers.
Writers, I urge you to put this book on your head and hope for osmosis. And read the chapter “Rejection Section” over and over. I have.
Ah, writers’ fear. Who among us hasn’t been afraid at times of a litany of terrible possibilities concerning our work? Often following rejections by individuals in the publishing world. It’s a raw fear. My writing falls flat. I have nothing new to bring to the literary world. Do I even have my own voice? Chatter, Chatter, Chatter. The inner demon doesn’t shut up, even in the face of praise for one’s work and worse, in the face of an inner knowing that what you have just written sings with truth. Writer’s fear is a misery.
Listen to Arielle and David. Let them take your writing fears and send them off like so many birds escaping from their cage.
A GOOD PHOTO
A GOOD WORD
Dancing: As in “Keep on Dancing.”