March 25, 2008

The Literature of Longing

This morning I was reminded of how our best writing takes place from a sense of longing. The Writer's Almanac today made note of the fact that it's Kate DiCamillo's birthday. "She spent most of her childhood in Florida, but after college she moved to Minnesota to work for a book wholesaler... That first winter in Minnesota was one of the coldest on record, and DiCamillo missed her hometown in Florida horribly. She also desperately wanted a dog, but couldn't have one because her apartment building didn't allow dogs. So she began writing a story about a stray dog that helps a 10-year-old girl adjust to life in a new town..." and we know the rest of the story from there.

On the tail end of this very cold, wet, miserable winter, I can only imagine the author's horror. Snow is pretty -- when you don't ever have to go outside, or are only visiting it temporarily. I imagine that after growing up in Florida, it must have seemed impossible, yet Kate DiCamillo found room in her mind to create a place where she wanted to be, and people she wanted to be with. And she found herself a dog.

Is your writing real?
Is it so heartfelt that it's part of your inner world translated to paper? It seems that stories like these are the best things to read, and the most worthwhile to write.

A story I wrote features an older character who changed and grew with the novel until she was a major player along with the teens in the story. I really enjoyed rounding out the character and including her, because I enjoyed rewriting, in a small way, my actual history. I created a relationship like the one I very much wished for with my own grandmother, and that character has attracted favorable comment from many people.

It may seem a little... weird and needy to rewrite the world to your specifications, making yourself the heroine of all encounters. More importantly, it can be completely boring -- keeping in mind the writer's adage that Just Because It Happened To You Doesn't Make It Interesting. There's a difference between writing out your own personal history and personalizing a story by writing a real emotion. It's a worthwhile bit of digging, to find something real.


Shrinking Violets has a few things to say on introverts vs. extroverts from the book The Introvert Advantage. Most notable to me is the assertion that extroverts "adapt more quickly to time-zone changes than introverts." Also, extravert's test performances were improved by receiving praise. This is some really fascinating stuff -- I imagine it's very valuable for parents, too, not to mention writers who have to figure out how to manage the public side of the field. Thanks, Violets!

NPR's Morning Edition discovers comic books. Comic book audiences are ...different, Joss Whedon discovers. "You can evoke ire that you've never dreamed of in TV." Yeah... Ire. Controversy. Whatever you want to call it...

WRITING CONTEST ALERT
Aerin @ In Search of Giants is hosting an April Fool's Writing Contest! It's easy -- because all you have to do is finish a story. Do you love yourself some Mad Libs? Or those 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books? Go to the site, read the story starter which has been presented by Writer At Work, and -- finish it.

Prizes are subjective, of course, but there will be a $20 SuperCertificate to the author of Writer At Work's favorite ending, one Readers' Choice $20 SuperCertificate and one $10 random lottery prize SuperCertificate by random lottery.

1 comment:

TadMack said...

Another writer on writing from the heart:

"A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching out toward expression, an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the word." -- Robert Frost