A Writer Wonders…
2016: I found my writing voice haphazardly several years back. The journey to the home in my heart has been fraught with both amazement and disappointment. All of which I have revealed here, on the virtual pages of my Blog. (Confession: at the start of the yellow brick road I hadn’t a clue what a ‘writer’s voice’ was, nor how to find it.) I was also fairly clueless about the daily write and the writer’s rite.
As fate or luck would have it I happened upon The Writing Salon, owned and operated by Jane. The Writing Salon is not quite a school, definitely not Iowa, but a writing collective offering an eclectic assortment of writing workshops on the craft of writing, to the inhabitants of the San Francisco community. Discovering The Writing Salon–for me–was akin to happening upon a first class ticket on Virgin Airlines to Nirvana, and a 1:1 session with all those authors I admired who had crossed the abyss from dream to reality (publishing).
At the time, all knew for sure was I did not know how to write every day, or even that it was essential. I was definitely ignorant about the length of paragraphs and where to start my novel. I was quite certain about what I didn’t know about writing was unquantifiable.
Back then all I knew was I wanted to write. I had a fierce desire to put my stories on the page. The passion roared feverously in the pit of my belly, but beyond the heat to make something, I was at a loss on how to. Like other virgins, I wandered the aisles of bookstores–back when there were a Barnes and Nobel & Borders on every corner–reading the table of contents of writing books hoping no one was watching. I had it in my mind everyone knew how to write.
Finding Jane’s Salon was like happening upon the proverbial treasure map. While the workshops didn’t make me a writer (that is a personal journey and choice) they did lighten the path I followed to get to where I am today . The nuggets I mined back in the early days have been invested. I continue to reap the benefits from the early windfall.
I was but one of many writers who passed through Jane’s Salon looking for the key to the mystery of writing, but probably not the only one who never had the chance to thank her or to let her know if not for her foresight and passion I might never have found my writer’s voice.
I was saddened to learn of Jane’s passing today. I was remiss in telling her that because of her Round Robin workshops (I enrolled in dozens of them) I learned how easy it is to write every day and how much I LOVE writing. I never told her that I learned the more a writer writes the more the writer improves, and finally, how I finally uncovered my writer’s voice. Jane: wherever you have decided to reside in the afterlife I sincerely hope your desk is armed with the writer’s essential tool-kit, you have a stellar writing group, a hotline to the New Yorker, and your words are always at the top of all the best-seller lists. Thank you for your heart and endless passion with the newbies.
Something from my archive and written in during a Round Robin session.
2013: I am equal parts, introvert, dreamer, hunter, warrior, and detective. I am a writer. I’m not shy or even timid, but willingly and delightfully, spend an exorbitant amount of time inside of my mind catching sunbeams and chasing shooting stars. Where my creative alter-ego goes, I follow without hesitation. She and I, the we in me, set sail and fill the blank page, working side-by-side in pursuit –as a hunter tracks, a dreamer dreams, a warrior conquers, a detective resolves – of the story. We’re interchangeable.
My brain is ambidextrous. Today the right side is creating while the left half sifts through the raw material that passes through the viaducts on a daily basis. Later, Lefty will edit and cull the story, while Righty inventories the spoils mined earlier. By definition, the writer in me is a natural scavenger.
I am hawk-eyed gliding through the days, diving deep within or watching patiently from the sidelines for tidbits worth plucking to use in my narratives. To see the world through my writer’s eyes is to observe the play of glittering light on the diamond’s multi-faceted surface transmitting 24×7 onto any exterior in spitting distance. What a non-writer dismisses – the girl with a dragon tattoo – I capture and describe, catalog and treasure. Alone or in a crowd, I stand guard with my pen and pad. In line at the local barista or seated in a folding chair at the water’s edge I see what can be…
Two people are standing on a platform in London waiting for the Brussels-bound train. One is a writer and the other is not. The non-writer wearing dark glasses climb into the train relieved to be away from chatty toddler bouncing like a rubber ball behind him. The writer watches as he boards. She turns the dial of her sensory receptors to high and boards the train. To the outside world, she looks like every other traveler. She wears her jeans well, but they are an inch too long, and the hems catch at the back of her heels every few feet. She’s proud of their tattered appearance. Her red cotton V-neck t-shirt is faded from age, and the black zip-up-the-front sweatshirt she borrowed from Ian, the stranger she took to bed in Dublin, is tide loosely around her hips.
She walks down the aisle toward her seat. She stops midway down the passageway, smiles and makes eye contact with the pear-shaped woman whose toddler is bouncing up and down on the seat, squealing. The young mother’s pursed lips relax and curve slightly at the outer most edges. A bead of sweat drips off the woman’s chin landing squarely over the on top of the larynx, and cruises south until it’s swallowed by hallow between her voluptuous breasts. The writer continues walking down the narrow passageway until she finds 15B, a window seat. She offers to trade places with the twenty-something in 15A, the non-writer, sporting aviator glasses and plugged into his mp3 player. He slides over to the window seat, pulls his SF Giants cap down over his eyes, looks up, and offers to buy her a drink once the train leaves the station. The writer stores her suitcase overhead but keeps her backpack. She sinks into the warmed seat, delighted. She has the best seat in the house. She slips the notebook and pen out of the bag and waits for the possibility to come walking by.
Writers accept this is part of the madness of being a writer. Most of us meander through life living in the shadows. We watch. We listen. We document. We hoard snippets of life as an extreme coupon-er clips coupons. For the most part, we’re content living large in our respective minds. The longer the writer writes, the deeper the roots burrow, further and further, until they twist and curl around the bones and veins of the writer. There is no escaping this fate, not that a writer desires freedom. A writer accepts this without question. I know I did. I didn’t question my destiny, but when I had my ah-ha moment and accepted my calling I did wonder, and have assumed others like me had the same questions.
1) How did I get this way?
2) Are there others out there like me?