Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Nature or Nurture?

In her comment to yesterday's post, Debra said (in part): There was a time when the only thing that mattered (creative-wise) was the story you wanted to write. You felt its call, heard its voice, and felt that indefinable sense, the pull to give life to words and make a vision incarnate. The story resided in your heart before it journeyed to your mind.

Debra, you must have been hiding in the closet back then. LOL. That describes perfectly how I used to feel and work. That's what I'm trying to get back. Take a look at my first published story, "The Prodigal Son" for an example of what kind of work I was doing then. It has severe technical flaws, but I still like the feel and imagery, and it has a raw energy that I have lost.

What happened was, I wanted to improve my writing, make it more socially acceptable. I wanted to out myself as a writer. I wanted to improve my craft and skill to match my desire and talent. During the process of educating myself, though, I fell into a deep and deadly trap. I began to worry far too much about what other people were doing and about how I "should" be working and what techniques were acceptable and what weren't.

Along the way, I lost sight of me. I lost my vision and my voice. I have gained the whole world of writing craft, but lost my own soul. I have to find my soul. I have to find that spring that used to bubble up, clear and cold. I have to uncover it, clean it out, let it flow again. I need to get back the energy and excitement I used to feel. I used to sit up all night writing and be just as fresh at work the next day as if I had slept through the night. Now a thousand words wear me out, and I don't even feel myself in them.

The way I see it, I need to do a couple of things. First, I have to forget about "everybody else", and I have to forget about "should", and I have to forget about "can't" and "don't" and "do this, not that". It's my vision, damnit! I'm going to tell my stories in my own voice and in my own way. Fuck the rules! I've learned the craft and lost the art, and that is unacceptable. Craft without art is dead words for dead eyes. I won't do that. I'm better than that.

So now, I have to give myself permission to write. To do that, I am going back to basics. Free-writing, working on what sings to me that day. No more schedules, no more rigid expectations, no more word counts until I get back to me. I'll certainly keep blogging and reading blogs, but you may not hear much about particular stories or projects for a while. Just the normal lunatic ravings of a fevered mind.

I'm off to see the Wizard!


At 9:48 AM, Blogger Michelle Miles said...

I think sometimes our brains get muddled with the things we should be writing, instead of our true vision. The story of our heart. When you see the Wizard, ask him where the heck my muse is. I'm still waiting for her to return from Spring Break.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Carter said...

My Muse has such a soft voice I can't hear her anymore over Monkey Mind, Editor, Critic, Busybody, and all the other voices roaring in my head. Once I get them quieted down, I think I'll be back up to speed.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Think about what the Wizard told the Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow. Look inside.

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Debra Young said...

First of all, let me say the story was a marvelous read, entrancing; it has that special passion of the written word when it comes from the wellspring that waters the creative mind. You must get back to that, Carter; I'm trying to do the same myself for my writing. I remember when I could feel the beating heart of a story and now it's a struggle just to get even a sense of it. Hey, I'm just a few steps behind you on the yellow brick road. d:)(PS: How nice of you to quote me. Thx!)

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Carter said...

Thanks, Debra. You're right. I have to get that back. Once you've been there, nothing else will suffice. It's more addictive than any drug, and I miss it.


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