I’ve been thinking about how, in order to write a good story, you have to lay bare your soul.
Currently, I am exploring envy. It’s a difficult topic. I’m writing from both male and female viewpoints, trying to explore envy in different ways. It was my frame of mind years ago, when I was apt to become envious of another person for one reason or another.
Then, I learned something. Everyone has their own crap to deal with. You might be envious of one aspect of a person’s life, but would you really want to deal with their crap? Would YOU want to deal with MY crap?
That was my cure for envy, a realization that slowly came on over the years. Nowadays, no matter how attractive or talented or successful someone is, I rarely experience envy. Maybe it’s the wisdom of experience.
When I think of the Snow White story, I think of it as a story about envy. The evil queen is envious of any woman deemed more attractive than she. And so, she becomes jealous of Snow White. Her jealousy is a murderous one, so I figure she must have done this before.
But then, I am trying to explore a more constructive envy. An envy that actually makes the envious person strive to become a better person. I like where it’s headed.
All of the stories I’m really happy with are ones that lay bare my soul in one way or another. I’m not writing for therapy, But I have discovered that telling stories involves giving something of yourself to your reader. The stories I love as a reader are ones that really don’t seem to hold anything back. Those are the authors I remember.
But many successful authors don’t seem to do this. I’m reading a series now that I enjoy, but it’s mostly plot driven, with only bits of character development from book to book. They’re fun to read, but I don’t think I could ever write this way. I’ve tried, but although these stories hold my interest as a reader in an “entertain me” kind of way, they don’t hold my interest as a writer. Maybe I just don’t know how to write good plot-driven stories yet. Maybe it will come with practice.
But really, its the character-driven stories that I love, and it is the successful character-driven author that I hope to be like one day. In a non-envious kind of way. 😉
7 Thoughts to “Writing — Baring your Soul”
You mentioned a lot of successful writers don’t seem to lay themselves open -perhaps that’s because it’s such a frightening thing to do. -Not, I think, that its scary when you’re actually writing. The soul-deep sort of storytelling tends to give a person an emotional lift that’s almost addictive, but afterwords its easy to think `do I really want anyone to know this about me?’ That’s where you’re tempted to go bury the story in a graveyard at midnight and write about fluffy bunnies have a picnic instead.
I have pulled back after I’ve written something. I flay my soul, and then I come back later and make adjustments to bring it within my comfort level.
But really, when I talk about baring my soul, its more like infusing my characters with my soul in ways that I sometimes don’t even recognize. One of my favorite characters is an eighteen year old boy that I don’t have a lot in common with. He’s a jerk to his younger brother, and has a hot temper. But when I wrote his story, it really resonated with me.
And Talia from The Sevenfold Spell is such a tart, and she is totally not me. But I could slip into her role and become her so easily.
Maybe writing is kind of like acting. I have certainly heard others make the comparison. And the actors we love the most are the ones who make us forget who he is while he is acting the part, because he really becomes that person.
I guess I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say here…
I’m sure I’ve been green with envy a time or two. And you’re right, realizing I didn’t want to deal with some of the OTHER stuff they had to deal with made me change my tune quickly.
The envy you mention that causes one to do better…I like to call it ‘inspiration’.
Ah, the way bits of yourself get caught in the characters you invent, NOT the `wrung out on emotional scenes and flying high’ kind. Gotcha.
Oooh, the ugly envy monster tries to snag me all the time. Then I get whiny. I hate whiny!
I really like your comparison of writing to acting. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to slap an excellent actor silly for saying ridiculous things as him or herself. But then they turn around and pull some amazing performance from deep inside themselves. I think it’s some kind of magic. Just like writing. I don’t really want to know the secrets of other people’s tricks. I love the surprise, the wonder.
More Tia tales soon, please!
Thanks, Laura. They are coming. Middle age is just slapping me around some, at present. Must heal, adjust my lifestyle, and move on.
writing should be quick, fast and emotionally charged. the hand that squiggles those cursive words on paper from the poison pen ought to be writhing with agony like an animal struggling on the ground after being shot by a hunters bullet. like good poetry that comes from the heart, good writing comes from one personal deep down surreal/visceral feelings and experiences. especially the embarrassing and humiliating and negative (s)experiences are prime fodder for the written word. one has to pull out the hidden cthonic energy to write this stuff from within the personal hell by descending into it and literally eviscerating the soul like a torn chicken. pull out the entrails no matter how dirty/disgusting and expose them to the open air so that they are clean now and then you can begin the process of true creativity. you have to take before you make. the best touches you on a spiritual existential level. it changes your life forever. you will never be the same. the writer writes on and the reader reads on without the two ever meeting in real life. yet they are closer than the inside and outside of a hair on a microscopic level. what the insider knows and transmits the outsider picks up and acts on.
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