Monday, March 22, 2010

Write What You Know--Why Have I Been Avoiding This?

How do you write? One word at a time. It's elementary, really. However, the root of the question involves the ideas, the meat. Writing needs to be more than just words strung together well.

Confession time ... I haven't written in months. Part of it is no doubt related to the chaos with Pythagorus, hanging out with Andy and going with that flow, teaching amazing children English, and of course my fabulous daughters.

The truth is, I'm afraid. Yup, I am scared.

I have, for a long time, used writing fiction to deal with my problems. Turning things like unspeakable violence and loss into things experienced by my characters gives me an element of control that helps me come to terms with things in my own way at my own time.

It's funny, though, how blogging has really allowed me to address some of these things in terms of me. More importantly, though, it has forced me to slow down, to consider things in a more thoughtful and less impulsive way. There are some remarkable, thoughtful people that read this blog, and sometimes I want to yell, "I need some freaking advice here! Some of you are wise in ways I will never be--what do I DO about this? How do I act?", but the double-edged sword to having a public blog is that you never know who is reading. There are some things that have to be kept private.

Which ironically leads me to my point, I guess. Yes, I just wrote "There are some things that have to be kept private" ... and yet I'm gearing up to write a memoir. I think that I've finally reached the point where I can write about the last year of my life--a year when I lost everything I have because of my husband's alcoholism and mental health issues--in a way that is healthy and, perhaps more importantly, helpful to people.

Write about what you know, they say ... and I say it to, to my students all the time, but more and more to myself even as I realize that it's what I've been doing all along. I'm just all of a sudden aware of it.