Thursday, 26 June 2014

Things I need to Hear

Coaching others in their writing process is a clever way to remind myself of things I need to hear. Here are five nuggets that  I have revealed to myself in recent sessions:
  • "Your writing matters."
  • "Whether you get published or not, writing has a profound effect. The act of creation causes ripples of energy. Creation creates vibrational shifts."
  • "Writing is alchemical. You transform yourself in the act and process of writing."
  • "Writing takes place first in the invisible realms; once you have created there, it is a matter of bringing words to the page and crafting them."  
  • "You can build a relationship with a writing project before it is visible in material terms."

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A Novel Abduction

    "What follows is a record of where Meadow and I have been since our disappearance." 

     So begins a beguiling novel that is seemingly about child abduction but actually about the ways in which repressions, denials and dishonesties can distort our capacity to love. Schroder by Amity Gaige, brings us into the warped yet somehow endearing consciousness of a father on the losing end of a custody battle with his estranged wife. As the court nips away at his visiting rights, and as he fears being revealed as a fraud, Eric Kennedy aka Schroder takes his six-year-old daughter on a trip. 

     "'We're hitting the road!'"  I said.
     She tilted her head.  'We're hitting the road?  With what?'
     'No, no, no.' I laughed. 'We're going driving. We're going on a trip. A spontaneous trip. You and me. How does that sound?'"

     While Meadow responds with a child's enthusiasm, Gaige encourages the reader to feel a strange mix of growing unease mingled with affection for this father who is so woefully unprepared to either take care of his daughter or abduct her:

     "That morning, before her arrival, I had packed myself a small bag (swimming trunks, a toothbrush, some reading material), letting this small bag flirt with my own desire to flee, but not with the clarity of premeditation. It was more with a desperate flourish that the last thing to go into the bag - after a slight hesitation - was my passport. Just in case! You never know!"

     Gaige does not let us forget that Meadow is a vulnerable child - we are made to feel the potential danger of Eric's benign neglect - but she also gives us glimpses of the deep and redeeming love between father and daughter that might have been possible if only things had been different. It is unusual to be in the mindset of the abductor versus the terrified mother whose child is missing. Thoughts of Nabokov's Lolita flitted occasionally through my mind. How do you measure danger? How do you measure love? 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Pleasures of Writing

     A great deal has been written or spoken about the anguish of writing - the blocks to creativity; the long hours spent sitting alone in a room; the blank screen; the drivel that comes out of most writers before they write something good; and the pains of rejection once a manuscript leaves the safety of home and tries to make it in the world. This is all familiar territory.

     Just as important, is to pay attention to the pleasures of writing - the intimacy with one's text that develops slowly like a really good love affair; the deep wells of patience and commitment that grow more readily through writing than in actual love affairs; the self-belief that sustains you; the rich sensations of swimming in words; the curiosity about where the story is taking you; the power and wonder of creating worlds.

     I am working with some personal stories at the moment, hoping to turn them into palatable fiction. It means I am delving into relationships that shaped and impacted me during my 40's. Most of us leave the terrain of relationships that did not end well with some measure of relief and a promise not to go down that road again. Writers who choose to scour their lives for insight and meaning get to re-live the past, see it from new perspectives, examine and laugh at the blind spots and dead-end alleys. It makes life richer.