Monday, April 19, 2010

Issues

Returned from writers' retreat energized. Tired, looking like hell, back hurting, but...oddly energized, because I learned a few things. #1 - I have issues.

Many of us are so afraid of putting ourselves onto the page that our characters tend to be "cardboard", one-dimensional, two- at best. Some are scared that we'll reveal too much about ourselves and that nobody will like us. Others try so hard that nobody likes them or their characters anyway. And a smaller portion of us fear we'll scare the shit out of folks. It goes beyond "what if they don't like me" to "what if they want to lock me up or avoid me altogether?" - and then...

Some of us are genuinely clueless. We know the mechanics of writing but not characterization, because we are either so shallow that we only scratch the surface, or we're so friggin' deep we're in danger of drowning ourselves.

Somewhere in the midst of character chaos lie those of us who haven't made peace with our baggage from the past. I'm one of those. I'll think I've buried the dead and emerged like some phoenix from the ashes, but whenever my stuff is read aloud, I marvel...you are still angry as hell, and it shows. You're not psychotic, but you definitely have issues. I can say this because I know I drop my pants and put myself 'out there', on the page, every time I write something. And when it's read aloud, it ain't always pretty. Anger comes in many disguises - mine is cloaked in sarcasm and innuendo.

What to do? Keep writing, I guess. Hell, I dunno. I know that I never really smoked, drank, swore, or even skinny dipped (which I love - lol) until I was nearly 29. What happened doesn't matter. What matters is that whatever pushed me toward becoming an adrenaline junkie is still there, lingering in the murky past. It can't drag me back--I'm not afraid in the least of that. But it can cloud the waters of my mind, make me lose focus of what matters most. I used to do drugs and dye my hair purple. Now I just write. But my female characters (okay, protagonists) who are afraid to show emotion, reveal what they truly fear and feel, won't garner me any sympathy or requests for manuscripts until I allow them to soften a bit. They can smart-ass themselves out of danger or relationships, but the chill factor needs to heat up, thaw them, give their arthritic attempts at communication some vitamin E or something. Adrenaline junkies take risks, but they're not necessarily emotional ones...and emotion is what sells, folks.

Back to the drawing board. I've joined a new critique group. Haven't belonged to a do-or-die crit group in ages. Never for once thought I knew it all. Just dropped out of my own life for a spell and watched it from the sidelines. That's the trouble with allowing others to infiltrate your subconscious and become a part of your everyday life - lol. If they give a damn about you, they remind you (even if they are unaware of doing so) that you're still breathing, that you're not dead yet...and, therefore, neither is your writing.

~ Lazarus Sunny Lyn *shaking off the dust and starting fresh...again* (I've had more fresh starts than Richard freakin' Nixon)

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4 Comments:

At 11:38 PM, Blogger Liz Wolfe said...

WOW! That is a lot of insight. I'm still nudging around the edges of my own insight. But wait! I have a funny story about skinny dipping:
I was 19, living in Cocoa Beach, FL and a friend came to visit from Michigan. We went for a walk on a (presumably) deserted beach one night and she talked me into going for a dip. (I swear it was all HER idea!). What the hell? The beach was deserted, right? So we strip off our clothes and dive into the ocean. (Yes, I now realize at my advanced age what a STUPID idea it is to swim at night in the freaking ocean.) So, we swim for a bit, then look toward the shore. YIKES! The formerly deserted beach is now FULL of cars. Evidently a popular teen parking spot. What to do? I told Barb that our only choice was to just *casually* walk out of the water, put our clothes on and leave. Sure a few teems would get a chuckle but what more could happen?
Well, I slogged out of the water, picked up my jeans only to have a male about my age approach me. He was being on-so-casual, holding a cigarette.
"You got a light?" he asked.
"No. I don't smoke," I answered.
Only later did the hilarity of that conversation in the particular predicament hit me.
Of course, NOW I would have had a much better comeback. I think. Well, on paper, I would, for sure.
I'm going to read your insights again because I think there's a big message in there for me.
Love,
Liz

 
At 10:36 AM, Blogger Jackie Bannon said...

Woman, you're not the only one with that issue. As you pointed out, my voice is FINALLY coming out. Maybe I should just write in 1st person because you CAN'T hide it.

Whatever the solution is, if you find it, let me know. Until then, we'll both just bumble along and enjoy the ride.

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

Hey, Ladies! I think what bugs me the most is that what I have felt was my strongest work is what needs the MOST help. Ack. And what just flows from my fingertips is what is the best...and to me, the most boring, but hey...somebody seems to like it.

And it bugs me that the reason for the differentiation is that in the former, I "fake it", for lack of a better term. I don't really let myself go with it. Go figure. Be yourself??? - LOL

And as friend Carol Lynne & the dear daughter-in-law are apt to say--and it's finally soaking in--"write to express, not to impress, and you'll go further". Doh. I'm a slow learner at times, regardless of how well I think I have something down pat.

 
At 1:59 AM, Anonymous Aliciataylor said...

I'm always up for a thoughtful discussion of semantics. All the other comments now seem superfluous.
I think nobody can be brief as like your post!


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