Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Keep Going

I dreamed I was Anne Lamott the other night. When I woke up I began analyzing all the little layers of my dream – my ego said, you have that kind of talent and my brain said, keep writing and you will get to where she is and the student in me said, oh, she is the greatest, you have so much to learn. The thing about Anne Lamott (besides being a truly beautiful writer) is that she tells the truth – whether fiction, memoir, her guides for writers or essays – she shares the truth of her experience. It is her truth to be sure, not the kind of truth whose existence is argued in graduate schools the world over, but her experience – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I think the net-net of my dream is that I want to tell the truth, my truth. So I have been writing things I want to tell you. One, read Anne Lamott. Two, if you want to be a writer read Bird by Bird. Three, everything you need to know (or have!) will come to you. (Ok, this is the one I keep telling myself as I look for work writing! or editing! or acting?!) Four, keep writing. Five, see Four. Six through Nine, see Four and Five.

Because I have been doing Four through Nine, I recently decided to have a go at number Ten and I started looking around to where I could send certain pieces. Salon seemed an obvious place, so I took their advice on the submission page and started to familiarize myself with their content. Was my piece better suited to Love & Sex or to Life? The day I decided to explore the Life section a perfectly serviceable piece about catching the Bubonic Plague had been posted. It was written in “good writer’s voice” with touch of “wowwee!” because how many of us get the plague nowadays? And because I was not satisfied I decided to keep clicking and that’s when I came upon this. Emily Rapp’s piece is not “good writer’s voice” it’s “great writer’s voice.” It tells the truth, her truth and takes you on the full-circle emotional journey of grief and growth, understanding and our own delicate and aching humanness. I think a few years ago I would have tossed my piece in the trash and said, ‘Well, nice try.’ Now I am focusing on my truth and sharing it with you.

Does my piece fit the Life section? I think yes, it is on a different scale, but it does. Think sweet and breezy – and it also touches on grief and growth, understanding and our own delicate and aching humanness. So, ok, I’ll keep going. I’ll keep doing what I am doing, being and writing. I’ll write to the level of the raised bar as often as I can. I’ll keep finding things and sharing them with you. I have some dreams, they keep telling me things – and I’ll keep telling you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Writing (with a little sex in it)

I am settling into my new place and my new life in it. As I intended it has opened up a whole new phase of creativity for me. I wrote a short story, I am blogging for Hürriyet Daily News, I am working on two short, funny pieces and I am trying to figure out where to invest my creative energies. I love the feeling of mastery I get when I write a short story – the architecture, the voice, the subtext, the telling of something true economically as possible. I have always loved the short form. But it is also an intense experience – like holding the reins of wild horses as I did when I wrote the last 1,000 words of my latest one. And afterwards I am out of it, usually for a few days, as if I just need to rest from that journey.

My shorter, occasional blog pieces are easier and gentler to write. I enjoy them, but there is no distinct feeling of power and control that comes from within a short, literary piece, which may be a good thing because I certainly don’t have the stamina for that all the time.

I know I am very lucky – and I am grateful to be able to slip in and out of different forms and styles easily. I also think I am more or less at the same level within each of the forms (maybe my poetry needs some more crazy, experimental musicality and life experience, but I have planted that in the back of my subconscious and am just waiting for it to go B(l)oom!)

So, at the moment I am contemplating an easy, breezy longer narrative (no architecture, just one straight road beginning to end), with one easy, breezy voice (best friend kind of funny) with lots of sex, because as we all know, sex sells.

Here is a clip from one of my all-time favorite movies – that almost perfectly meshes social commentary with comedy.  Our hero “Sully” is a Hollywood director who wants to make an earnest movie about America’s social problems – and his studio bosses’ response.

[Sullivan's Travels is arguably writer/director Preston Sturges’ most important film. I highly recommend it along with my other favorite, The Great McGinty.]