The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Monday, April 21, 2008

I am the Master of my own Destiny

Ah, shoot! You think our readers are noticing the recurring themes in our writing? Not so bad if you have plenty of readers, but I can remember a time my only reader was mom, and the only stories I wrote involved moms with thunder thighs and nipples that were constantly going like this: psst! Hey! Over here. Look here. Shoot! I’m still doing that, but at least I mix things up a bit now by inserting a father figure into the stories. Oof! That didn’t sound right. But you know what I mean.

I couldn’t help but write those stories, which were more about wanting to crawl back inside the womb than any Oedipus complex. Oy! Maybe it was a combination of wanting to crawl back inside the womb and protect my mom from my dad. Whoa! Not so much protecting my mom from my dad, I just thought I could do a better job than him. Yikes!

Thankfully, I have five or six readers now, so I can keep the more embarrassing stories from my mom, say… four out of every five.

But should I be finding this recurring theme in my writing embarrassing? I get angry sometimes by my own response to my own writing. Oh, no. I’m doing it again. Is that right? Maybe not. If the writing seems to be continually about a certain theme or subject matter, maybe it's best to just keep on writing until you get it out of your system. Is there a choice? I can write stuff that has little to do with a boy growing into manhood, or the man wondering how he got to where he is, but I can promise you that it will be lifeless and mechanical. Besides, I think these recurring themes might make us better writers because we force ourselves to examine more closely our subjects, from different angles every time, thus improving our ability to get at the psyche of our characters. Hopefully, this years-long exercise in fleshing out a character(ourselves) will serve as training for fleshing out other characters outside the box(prison of our skin). There’s nothing wrong with a writer coming into his own in his fifties, after all. Some of us must resign ourselves to the simple fact that our childhoods left us like a pack animal, a huge, skyward load strapped to our backs. The term wunderkind does not apply to us. We were tired before our time.

Here, I have to give thanks to flash writing, because it makes revisiting easy as heck – a hit and run type of situation, where you don’t get time enough to wallow -- there’s always the next flash, hopefully bringing you closer to the end of the saga(yawn!). That’s the novel in flashes we talk about, too obsessive and unrelenting, exhausting to write, and I can’t imagine how tiring it must be as a read -- my story, anyway.

The challenge, if you come out on the other side, is to take what you learn and apply it to characters you don’t necessarily know anything about, your head full of insights into the human condition, believing you've grown into the type of person who isn't afraid to shine a light as you dig a little deeper than need be, a treasure chest crammed with riches(details that sting as you write them) as your reward.

Who needs a Masters when there’s life -- your own life.


Blogger Jacqueline said...

Hey, great blog!

I keep writing (and dreaming) about speeding cars and freedom so don't worry about it. We all have our recurring patterns. (Actually, yours sound more interesting than mine--no nipples or thighs in mine.)

I think for me a car is the ultimate symbol of freedom. Ya just get on in there are drive away, never looking back...

Mon Apr 21, 03:10:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Oh, I'd rather have your pattern going, but then I'd have to trade in my clunker for a Viper.

Mon Apr 21, 04:04:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

Yeah, it's true that I'm always driving a sporty convertible!

Mon Apr 21, 04:25:00 pm GMT-4  

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