Surviving a Writer's Life
I'm rereading some of my favorite writing books lately, looking for the bits and pieces that speak to me, checking what I have marked with Post-It notes and highlighting, seeking the spark, the connection that reminds me that even when I don't write, I am still a writer. Today it is Surviving a Writer's Life by Suzanne Lipsett. I think it's out of print but it's worth looking for. It's not about how to write but about being a writer on the good days and bad days and all the in-between days. She wants to write but she fights being a writer until she has a light bulb moment and says,
"I began to see that it was a question of surviving your raw material. Whatever life offered, and only what it offered, would become the stuff of art. The challenge was to live through it and then look back open-eyed without flinching. It then occurred to me then that if I ever picked up my pad and pencil again, I might actually have some stories to tell."
I agree. I think it was Hemingway (and if it wasn't I'm sure someone will correct me) who said that he couldn't write about Paris while he was in Paris because it was all too close. He needed the distance. I am starting to write stories that have their roots in my own past, stories that I know I couldn't write 20 years ago or even 10 years ago because they were too close to the surface. But now they have fermented for a while and I think I am ready.
Lipsett goes on to say, "It is writing plus life that makes a writer . . .because life alone creates a point of view. Irony of ironies, the more separations we experience, one from another, the more stories we have to tell - and the more pressing becomes the need to tell them."
Write on right now.