Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One Writer's Angst

Sometimes I wonder if the rather great writers are distinguished from the rest of us merely by being true to the words they hear from within. Many, many times I have proposed to put my thoughts into some concrete form and promptly rejected the ideas out of fear. Of what I am not certain. Of rejection? Judgment? Of being misunderstood? Of being labled eccentric--or worse, stupid. All these fears keep me from that stream of consciousness sort of writing and brain storming. I fear the best words are left to rot--shackled within the dungeon of self-doubt.

And it does occur to me that if people had any inkling of what cues I garner from watching them--from the very minutiae of their lives--if they knew how closely they were being scrutinized, they would shiver with uneasiness as if being stalked by a very strange and very fat old woman with weird ideas and worn out shoes.

Perhaps this writing life is a strange habit, indeed. It requires this keen eye into the essence of life. Anyone can string together a list of characteristics and behaviors. But it requires some measure of talent and elbow grease to make the character live as one of us--to make his presence felt in the very room with you as you read. That takes a fearless writer. One who is not skittish about being seen scribbling in public places. One who does not care if others find it odd to see a washed out, frazzled figure bent over a tablet in the park, chronicling details of the setting and trying to find precisely the right word to describe the color of the berry she smashed beneath her summer sandle as she walked.

How strange it would be for others to know the writer was overly concerned about this particular shade of fruit lying on the ground or planning how best to describe the splinters in the oak bench and the way they snagged her britches as she slid across it.

Somehow it is in the details. But which to gather and which to discard; that is the art. Too much or too little of this or that in either direction will leave your reader looking as if the berry were sour. Distasteful on his tongue.

What does the reader care if this berry is red or blue or purple--unless of course it is to be smashed into a poison used to kill or simmered on a pot over an open flame to make a war paint for a young Apache warrior's first dance with war. What if this berry lured a species of bird known only to some exotic southern hemisphere, and you were the first to spy it munching mildly on this berry at your feet? What then?

It may not be all about the berry. But it is what happens to and with it in relation to life and the things that are unfolding as the berry juice splatters on an unpainted toenail and note is made of the stark contrast of purple on pale, pasty skin that has not seen enough summer days in the park. Concepts of life and death emerge as the writer ponders how the berry needed the sun to make it sweet and juicy and ripe. And how dry and dull your own days have become as you have been left to rot, withering on the vine. How choked you feel by the weeds. Untended. Neglected. Unloved.

All this the writer feels but is afraid to write.


Sista Cala said...

I think the stain of poke-weed berries is a pretty shade of purple.

C. H. Green said...

There is a tree at Bailey Park, a rather old looking, tall with wide spread branches that sheds these purple berries. I didn't think blueberry trees grew that big and tall. Maybe it's an elderberry or boysenberry? I have no clue. Wish I knew.

Georgetta Nextdoor said...

Thank you for these words. I pray that concepts of life and death will emerge for all of us as we write and ponder...

C. H. Green said...

Thanks for stopping by Georgetta. Nice to meet you in bloggy land. Will have to stop by and see you.