Friday, March 15, 2013
Great vs Outstanding
Part of what will keep me on my toes is that writing class. At first I wasn't too happy with it, thinking it looked more like a group therapy session than actual writing do's and don'ts. It kinda broke my heart a little. Then we started reading our assignments in class, which in itself is terrifying because I hate my accent when reading, which lead to me being completely unable to finish a sentence without stuttering, even if I knew by heart the lines on the paper. Agh!
Then, there were the other writers. In contrast with every one else, I'm in a whole different league! And I don't mean a better or worse one, just TOTALY DIFFERENT. There are a couple of poets but most of them write more literary and dramatic stuff... and here I am, sharing my bloody horror stories, what even Stephen King calls 'the McDonalds of literature.' Awesome.
Last class, this guy is telling us how he had a very complicated relationship with his dad, inspiring him to write a touching, hilarious, and poignant story on child abuse. Then it's my turn and I 'read' (more like babble) a story about the end of the world. Granted, my story deals with the existence of God and our deep faults as humans, but it's not personal. New assignment for next week, write about something that has happened to you that affected you or made you think. That brings the ball home... I don't really write about myself. Why?
King uses his experiences, takes them to the worst possible conclusion and there you go, next month's bestseller. And he isn't alone, most people use their inner demons as fodder, so why not me?
After giving it a though (and quite a few hours of my sleep), I realized that I have but two stories that come from my sadness, my pain, or my fears. One is currently in submission, I couldn't finish the other because it was too depressing. So I guess there's my answer. I write because I love it, because it makes me feel alive, because I can let my imagination free and turn my back on my problems. I don't want to prod in too deep because it hurts, it makes me sad, and it isn't fun. But most of all, because the ride terrifies me.
When my oldest daughter was two, she almost asphyxiated with a huge chunk of ice she was eating. I had nightmares for days! Now, say I write a story where she actually dies and what would be my life like. Hell no! I don't want to deal with that kind of pain for months in order to get a decent story out there. Not when I can write a decent story that has nothing to do with it. Still, I guess that's what would make a good story exceptional. Raw pain bleeding into the ink...
So I've decided I'm going to meet the challenge. I don't know if this will become a new direction for my writing, but I'll try. First order of business is finishing that truly depressing story. We'll see where it goes from there.
What do you think, is it really that the only way to be outstanding is to write about yourself? Or is it possible to deal with deep, yet less personal problematics and still be a great writer? Food for thought, indeed.