I’m participating in an exercise in writing which has proved, in just 4 days, to be very, very good for me. I didn’t set out to blog about this experience, though I knew it might shape some of my posts as I move into this month. Laurie Halse Anderson, author of some really powerful books, hosts a Write Fifteen Minutes a Day experience in August. The requirements are simple. You saw them above. That’s it. For a month, write fifteen minutes a day. As gift, though, her blog contains a prompt each day; a nudge, a push, a hand up.
I don’t write these pieces to blog them, but when I realized how silent I have been here, and this one jumped out at me as something I could share about my writing, I decided to post today’s (besides, it really HAS been more than a month since I wrote. Geez). This is fifteen minutes of writing about what stops me from writing my latest work.
I’m afraid of writing trite fiction. It’s that simple. I read and adore beautifully crafted story. I’ve read and deeply appreciated the difference for so many years I’ve lost count, though I am told that in the first grade I brought home the latest Dick and Jane reader finished at school and proceeded to read the words every direction but left to right, beginning to end, evidently to point out to my mother how ridiculous it was; “it makes as much sense this way as the right way!”
Is this my driving motivator, the thing I shy away from? I write every day at work; I carefully craft communication: emails to colleagues and families, training manuals, informational paragraphs, documentation… but fiction, which I love, frightens me. I’ve written and published a book. I’ve drafted and revised and re-drafted and formatted and fussed and stewed, driven to make every piece crystalline. But for some reason, the book, which was truth, and personal truths about situation, wrote itself. The bones were there.
This story has some bones – but I’m taking a handful of true bones and fictionalizing around them. There’s no one to offend, since those who knew her best are dead; there’s no one, really, to care how I honor (or defame) this woman with whom I have been fascinated for the past 20 years… So why am I afraid? What is it that stops me from laying out the rest of the bones?
I want her to spring real and whole and flawed from the page. I want to love or hate or be disappointed in her myself, but mostly, I want her to be that alive when someone else meets her for the first time…