The subject of writing (real story writing) has been on my mind lately. My wonderful friend, Invisible Lizard, has thought about it extensively; much more so than I ever have, really. So I was surprised to find character studies and possible story outlines when I recently trawled through some of my old papers. (They consisted of poems, stories, cartoons and loads of one-liners.)
For me, the love of writing (and reading) came from the words used. I loved the sounds I could put together and the picture I could create in your head. But storytelling did not grip me in the same way. Still, I ‘recently’ sent Invisible Lizard a story I wrote. He was very kind and encouraging, saying all the things I could do to improve the storytelling feature of the story.
But here’s the hard truth- I sent him a crappy story. It wasn’t well thought out and it was written even more poorly than that. Because I was afraid to send him a true creation of mine. I have one. It’s tucked away inside of the computer, safe from eyes which could see through it and recognize its lack of potential. At least, that’s what I’m using as an excuse not to let others read it. Because it’s a story I like. And if that’s critiqued, I may just quit.
There was a time in my life when such things really didn’t matter. As a teenager, writing was my self-expression and all the gunk that had accumulated around my life was cleaned up and made more understandable within the poetry and stories I wrote. Most of it was highly depressing- the woman who died, drowned by her boyfriend or the one who died when her husband beat her to death. There was the story of the woman who took her children and left her abusive husband. The poems were not much more upbeat, telling tales of woe, lost love and missed opportunities.
Reading them now, I am struck by the subject matter more than the writing. Some of it is just pure cheese and I was as painfully aware of it then as I am now. Most of it was just the confused thoughts of a teenager, trying desperately to make sense of the crazy, maniacal world she was stuck in. Sometimes I am impressed with my own self, but mostly, I see that there is work to be done.
You see, I have been trying to discern what it is I want to do with this blog. What, exactly, am I trying to say and to whom am I trying to say it?
Ultimately, I’d like to be a good writer. Someone who can turn a phrase, create a scene, plant an idea with a word and make you sit back in awe. (No, I’m not a perfectionist at all….)
While that may be a long ways off, my goal now is to produce work that I truly feel proud of, and not attempt to reach a goal of a certain number of posts per week/month/whatever. I want people to come here because they are drawn by not only what I say, but by the way in which I say it. In homage to my sixteen year old self, who wrote poem after poem, loving the feel of words strung together, I begin my new goal today….
I was looking for something fun and interesting to share with you today. Unfortunately, my collection of poetry and short stories were all written pre-1992 which means they are mostly teenage drivel. Nonetheless, I will share a few tidbits with you which I have deemed ‘not quite so bad.’
Meaningless words are written on a piece of paper to stimulate the brain unsuccessfully. -Jan. 14, 1990
A star in the sky means nothing if no one is there to share it with you. The beach is nice. -Feb. 12, 1991
She gave him her heart,
he gave her a stone.
He said ‘I love you,’
and she put him on a throne.
All their time together,
everything they shared,
all were lies,
and yet she swears he cared. -Unknown date
And that’s it for tonight, folks. Hope you enjoyed the ride.
This is one post I feel reluctant, but compelled, to write. Ever have that feeling? You just can’t let it go, even if you want to, so despite my misgivings, here goes…
There is always someone in your life, a relative, co-worker, fellow group member, with whom you do not get along. And while you may attempt to limit contact with those people, it is inevitable that you will, at some point, be forced to interact with them.
Loving people is not an easy thing to do. Ask any married couple who has finished a even a few years of marriage. There comes a time where you really have to work; it no longer comes as easily as it did when the first flush of infatuation moved you forward. Siblings struggle with the frustration of dealing with each other over a lifetime, sometimes breaking ties for years in order to deal with their own demons before resolving that relationship. How much harder is it, then, to love those we don’t know? (Or easier, perhaps, since you will not have to brush up against their ideas and beliefs on a regular basis.)
Let’s start first with what I mean by ‘loving’ someone you don’t know, who is not a friend, but just the person you see in the store, on the road or in the coffee shop- a stranger. Love involves respect (allowing that person dignity) and an ability to accept a person where they are. You love your child even when they don’t follow directions, even when they hit a friend, even when they scream how much they hate you- because you accept them where they are at the moment. Of course, you do not accept bad behavior but sternly rebuke it, reprimanding where necessary.
That is our ultimate goal for strangers- acceptance with respect for the person while not accepting behavior that is harmful.
A discussion I had has made me pause for a bit and consider my call to do this. From a Christian perspective, I look at Micah 6:8: ‘He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ The question then becomes how do you ‘act justly’ and ‘love mercy?’ Another translation had ‘do justice’ and ‘love constantly.’ There is an inherit tension between those two things. Justice, as we understand it, is not always love. (I must note here, that the Old Testament understanding of justice was to do the commandments God gave. To be just meant to conduct yourself wisely, have faith in God and be ‘free from any fault which would damage fellowship.’*
Often, our first response to this concept is a positive one until we realize just how difficult it is to carry out these directives. To ‘love constantly’ seems to directly contradict our natures as humans. Or does it? My own belief is that we are all created good, original sin be damned. (Pun intended.) That being the case, we are morphed into something else as we grow. Society and experience teach us that in order to move ahead in this world, we must be vigilant of our own needs, stepping on others when the need arises.
It’s not pretty and calls into question what ‘needs’ necessitate hurting other people in order to satisfy them. Those of us living in the west live in a surplus of the basic necessities for life- food, shelter and clothing. There are those in our society who are marginalized by poverty and are forced to finds other ways to supply those basics, but most of the time there are ways to find them.
Every day we are challenged to step a little bit more out of our comfort zone and work with strangers we might not like, but are called to love; to help those we have deemed ‘not worthy,’ to accept that everyone has bad days and maybe the cashier just took out their frustration on you. It’s a radical idea, this ‘love your neighbor’ thing, especially when you want your neighbor to just leave you alone.
I struggle on, fellow travelers in life. May we all be successful on this journey.
*From ‘Encyclopedia of Theology, The Concise Sacramentum Mundi,’ Edited by Karl Rahner.