If It Doesn't Put The Poetry In It Gets The Prose

Every so often I think about revamping this blog to be more about the craft of writing rather than the personal aspect of what has brought me to the writing. And I do have to say that the last few years of channeling personal experiences into poetry and nonfiction has really been a bit of a depressing time for me. Although I think of myself as a survivor, going back so far into the past can be a little emotionally exhausting, not to menton the sheer energy involved in tearing it all apart into little miniscule dimensions so that I can write about it with any kind of objective flair.

As a result I have gone back to working in a genre that was really my first love; both in reading as well as writing. As many of you know I have been working (or I should say reworking) a SciFi novel called Are You Still My Girl? for the past year and am really excited not only with the work, but with the group of characters that have emerged. They walk around with me every day, tugging on my sleeve asking what they are going to do next. Lately they have been wrestling with me because I'm coming to the end of the first adventure and they are not liking where I am taking them. Oh and all the moaning and whinning about the injuries, the plot twists (sorry you turned out to be a really bad guy) oh and the complaining about the killing off of characters. Some of you just have to go; and sometimes you just have to go in a very satisfying violent manner. Buck up, it's the job, okay?

So I do wonder if I really create these characters or if they take on a life of their own once the book gets to a certain point. In many ways it seems like a relief if they do take their own destinies upon themselves because at some point in the writing I find myself staring at walls, twirling my hair and wondering where they want to go or what the hell they all want to do now. So I throw all my characters against the wall at 3AM and hope something will stick that will tell me where to go next. This process usually just bruises them a bit, which makes them pout so I've moved on to other techniques that are a bit more character friendly.

I know I am not alone in assuming that other writers do get as engrossed in their characters as I do and we all get to a point where we live with our characters as if they are a normal part of our lives. I find my self saying to someone,  "So say you are coming out of a brain-bleed..." without really explaining what a brain-bleed is, who is coming out of one or why I amd asking this of someone who hasn't even read the book. To me it's as if everyone can see these characters rattling around the universe becaue to me they have beecome very real and very concrete; at least if I am writing wells they are. It just gets to be such a normal everyday thing to be talking about these chracters and settings and an entire world that only really exists on paper as if it were a true reality somewhere out in the universe.

So watch for little snippets from Are You Still My Girl? and maybe a few craft discussions about how I tackle this strange world of character creation. Meanwhile you can always find me distracting myself with social media and pondering other worlds of ficticious characters, places and things that may or may not really only exist in my brain.

They Remember Everything

One of the things I have been wondering about lately is when, if ever,  is it time to walk away?  Or more specifically: at what age do we accept that our dreams are something for our younger selves and are best left back in our more idealistic days rather than still held onto by our middle-aged selves. I find myself thinking that if I had started this book or that collection of poetry twenty or even thirty years ago my career could have been this or that. I begin equating the years I could have had with the quantity I could have produced and therefore had a longer ramp to run up, jump off of to catapult myself out of obscurity.

But even more than this idea of loss of years I see how much easier it is to be reckless and experimental at twenty or thirty.  I'm constantly overshadowed by the idea that at a certain age our faces are too creased, hair too grey, bodies too soft, which suddenly equates to being out of touch and not relevant in this daily life consumed with selfies and zero wrinkles on twenty-year-old beauties.

So I constantly fight this outer vs. inner battle that my outward appearance and all of the time I have walked this earth has somehow added up to making me lesser rather than more. That my experiences have, at some indefinable line, become antiquated and not worth as much. And how this idea, even though I fight it constantly, causes me to doubt the things I want to write, the projects I want to start and the contacts I want to make.

I often compensate by researching the age at which this one had their first novel published or that one finally got their degree. I use these things to tell myself it's okay that I had to start so late. I placate myself with the idea that it is never too late or that there is always time. But really, is there?

Can that twenty year old writer in me really come to the surface with all that idealism after all that I have seen, lived through and survived? And, if she does, how does she fit in with the writer I am today? How does that hope-filled wide-eyed writer collide with this more realistic me that understands that life is rarely fair, even or equitable?

But even more importantly, how do I tell her that yes, we survived the path we chose but the surviving leaves so many scars? How do I tell her that even though these scars heal, the skin forever tugs at these things left behind. How do I warn her that these scars also remember? They remember everything.