Friday, July 15, 2011

Invisible Writing: If you couldn't publish, would you still write?

Sometime we write words to exorcise demons. We type or write them on paper then fear someone may read them. Whatever your issue, whatever your thought, whatever your habit, I call this form of writing INVISIBLE WRITING. Please leave your thoughts on this concept.  Think about it in these terms:  
·                     If you couldn't publish, would you still write?
·                     Do you write words you're afraid to publish?
·                     Do you hide words you hope no one will see until after you're gone?
·                     Do you write words so you can rip them up and destroy them?
·                     Do you prefer to write anonymously?
·                     Do you want to write but fear to publish?
·                     Do you wish to fade away from the world and write?

Here are my thoughts on the subject.  It is based on an article I wrote for the Oklahoma Writers' Federation newsletter.

The word “writing” brings to mind a picture of a person sitting at a desk, or perhaps in an easy chair, with a pad of paper and pen in hand, putting words and thoughts on the page.  Or perhaps the vision you get from the word is that of someone tapping on a keyboard or an iPhone. 

But the “what” of writing is not inherently tied to “where” or “how” of the process.  And a process it is, not an action.  The putting of words to paper or screen is one of the final steps to writing.  Many steps precede that physical aspect of writing.  We must gain some knowledge of what we intend to write, although I have read some novelists who seem to have skipped that step.  We have to decide who we are writing for and what words and concepts they would understand.  And we have to decide what we want to say, all before any actual words are “written.”

Long before writing had been invented, story tellers and bards kept history, true and fantasized, alive.  Our ancestors often believe everything they heard from the storytellers, just as some people today believe everything they read.  So in a sense, me telling a story to an audience, or planning how to tell such a story are in many ways mentally identical to the first stages of writing a story.

I recall reading a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky (or was it Tolstoy or some other late 19th century Russian novelist?).  I can’t really recall all the details, but in it was a character who listed his occupation as novelist, unpublished.  At one point in the book, the character spoke to the reader in a long and very Dostoevsky-esque soliloquy explaining that not only was he an unpublished novelist, he had never actually written a novel.  He went on to explain that we ALL write our lives as a series of novels in our memories and in the stories we tell others. 

Every human writes invisibly.  Some write those same novels very visibly, and attend many writing conferences year after year with the same unchanging manuscript.  Some write book but never get around to trying, or even necessarily wanting, to publish them.  We might even refer to this as journaling or “keeping a diary”.  Those writers among us who are even more driven to write, in the extended sense, try, sometimes with great persistence, to get their physically or electronically written novels published but never do. 

There may well be some amazing literary gems written invisibly, lying around in desks and hard drives all around the world!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My kids keep teaching ME how behave. Even when they don't realize it!

I read a comic strip the other day that made me think about my books.  It was the long Sunday version of “For Better or For Worse”.  A young boy, around six years old, was misbehaving.  Finally, the mother had had enough and sent him to bed.  As she stormed out of his bedroom the boy asked for a goodnight kiss.  She replied that when he behaved this way, she didn’t feel like kissing him.  He said, almost in tears “But Mom, that’s when I need it most!”

I know I get frustrated at both my 13 year old and my 4 year old children.  I know that I say things and react in ways that I am later, if not instantly, sorry for.  And most, if not all, parents go through this.  Otherwise books like “Go the F**k to Sleep”