Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A River of Words

“Some people spend their entire lives reading but never get beyond reading the words on the page, they don't understand that the words are merely stepping stones placed across a fast-flowing river and the reason they're there is so that we can reach the farther shore, it's the other side that matters.” – Jose Saramago

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I cry when I read my own writing. Always.

“You need to separate yourself from the characters. You’re not them, you can’t write yourself into every story.” But I do. Why wouldn’t I?

These filaments of life derive from me, my creations, my characters - given a semblance of a soul strewn across the page. It’s almost god-like to breathe life into the voices knocking about in my cranium for attention. I’m not them. Not by the end of the book. Surely, in the beginning they’re fleshed out and given personalities. I couldn’t contain all those personalities in one skull, even if I wanted to. No they’re not me in a fictional sense. In the end, I give something of myself far deeper, cloistered between words in a sentinel march across the computer screen.

Imagining somebody (real in every sense of a fictional context) into existence is all easy enough. However, I can’t discern where the line is drawn when it comes to conveying emotions, not if I want some kind of believability. How does anyone, imagine pain and heartbreak in any great profundity - no, those things I dumpster dive inside my soul for. On the page I’m devoid of skin, flesh, and ropey muscles, withered down to an open vein. The characters become my memory makers; curators to my first love, my anguish, my torment, all those hidden crevasses bound up in a heart.

If these innovations have supped enough on my emotions (soul sucking vortexes), they’ll begin to make their own mistakes and take on a life I never envisioned in the beginning. Some of my handiwork will eat the best parts of who I am - others will devour the broken shards of ugliness easily found in all of us (my hatred, my decayed moral compass). Those last take it from me and shrug into skin-suits devoid of humanity. They mimic life becoming the antagonist.

Words help us explore the places we go inside our minds, our hearts. Those things are the equivalent of what comes out in the stories we write. I’m pulled taut, the needle weaving the thread into the embroidery of a book. I get a glimpse of myself as I truly am between each struggle for the right word to voice what is felt. In the end discovering a way to keep who I am intact enough to bond with the architect of the lives I’ve built within a story.

“You need to separate yourself from the characters. You can’t write yourself into every story.” I must. How can it be any other way? Why do I cry when I read my own writing…the best parts of me, the weaver’s tapestry that’s been woven into a river of words is lapping at the other shore.



Picture from here

34 comments:

  1. I feel the same way when I paint- I can't do a painting without putting myself into it, leaving a bit of myself on the paper-I've tried, but every time they look wrong, lifeless and not good, and end up in the fireplace.

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  2. Wow. I know that in every story you put a part of yourself on it and you in some way expressed your thougts and feelings, but now i got a different perspective.

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  3. It's who you are..the fabric of your words...
    Sheri

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  4. Beautiful. You always touch my heart and make me feel Indigo.

    My kids think I'm nuts when they find me crying over something that's happening to one of my own characters - they con't get it :)

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  5. I'm always learning more and more about you from your writing.

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  6. I get worked up during first dradts, but usually edit out the connection later. I realize that's wrong.

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  7. I kinda agree with you... when you create a character or a story, it's a part of you... I tend to think you share a part of your soul with everything you create.

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  8. Very, very true, Indigo. Incredibly moving as well.

    We can all create characters: give them a history, a description, a face; these are all superficial. However beyond that, once you dig below the surface and make this character *real*, often all we have are our own thoughts and experiences, our own lives to draw on.

    Sometimes it is painful, and sometimes it is wonderful; often it is both. I don't think we *can* separate ourselves from our characters; if we did we wouldn't be writing from the heart, from ourselves.

    Like Saramango said: it's the other side that matters. The internal reflection we go through to get there not only helps us understand ourselves but also helps others understand our characters (and therefore ourselves, too) more completely.

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  9. Brilliantly written and still informative. I am with you in that I cannot separate myself effectively from my stories and I nodded when you said "I cry when I read my own writing."

    I think that's as good a reason as ever to write, to weave yourself into the fabric of your pages, and to breathe life into the characters of your creation.

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  10. I appreciate this quote, your wonderful reflection and imagery. It's apparent you weave your soul into your authentic writing.

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  11. Again Indigo, your words are so beautiful and feeling.

    I think every character has a little bit of ourselves in them. Although I don't expose all of myself, there are emotions and characteristics in there. I'm not sure how you can't.

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  12. Leonard Cohen said he sets his personality aside...writes outside of that. I have not yet been able to do that, but do wish to try. Seems a huge exercise. Funny how I seem to be able to live outside my true self, but cannot write that way.

    ((Hugs)) dear Indigo.

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  13. Very interesting. I can certainly see how this would happen and I would imagine you get very attached to your characters as well.

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  14. Beautifully expressed, and I agree with you. For a writer to touch the soul of the reader, his words must ring with authenticity, and what better place is there for a writer to find that authenticity than within his own soul?

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  15. Wonderful. Thank you for writing that

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  16. Oh, an incredibly vulnerable and even mesmerizing description of your creative process. I loved this. Will share it with a friend of mine whose first novel has been well received because I think she will love it, too.

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  17. Dear Indigo,

    You are indeed a brave and talented woman whose soul searching and looking into the depths of your past life translates into such beautiful words, when I remember from your past writings, that there are such sorrows and hurts waiting to be given light inside you. You are blossoming so beautifully that you, this amazing woman, is indeed so unique and lovely with such a wonderful gift.



    Jeanie xx

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  18. I tend to do the same, pull from life's experiences and write them in a manner that is cryptic. Confusing to others at times but...it eventually means somthing completely different to them.

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  19. I guess this explains why your writing has the depth that it does. You end up sharing your essence and as a writer it isn't like a piece of you put on display... it is you.

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  20. Indigo - this is so deep I'm not going to try and express my feelings...I would't know how to spell it out. I so enjoy and look forward to each one of your posts!

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  21. Wow. I cannot imagine writing any other way either. Of course we put ourselves into our work. We breathe our work. And I can't imagine writing a believable book without losing myself in it. Beautiful post. Wonderfully expressed. Thank you, Indigo. I must remember to drop by here more often.

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  22. Writers always amaze me with the ability to create characters. This is a beautiful post.

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  23. Your views on writing echo my own. Without the characters/people in my head, I wouldn't exist.

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  24. Indigo - I love the rhythm and flow of your writing, it's so lyrical.

    Great post - honest and so true.

    Beautifully written as always.

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  25. I think the parts of me that I hide are louder than the parts of me I rip apart and paste back together in the interest of creativity. And in the end, there are so few parts of me left.

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  26. Your writing wood be nothing if there were knot sum part of you in the pages somewhere, some how. all writings need 'truth' in order for us readers to connect. there is truth in every book. it does not matter from whence it came. you are still writing the pages of others even if they come from your soul..so indeed please continue your writing revealing 'truth' to all.....& btw you're damn totally awesome at it!!!

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  27. I think if we've given our all, have been our most vulnerable, our writing will have exactly this profound effect on us. I relate, Indigo!

    "We read to know we are not alone." CS Lewis

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  28. I feel more connected to certain wips than others.

    These connections have deepened with time. I felt less connected to my earlier fiction.

    And I do feel that a part of me is infused in my manuscripts.

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  29. This is my first look at what you do ... I love your style!!!! Will be a regular visitor now!

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  30. Beautifully said, Indigo. You give so much of yourself in to your writing, that I can see how difficult it would be to just let it go. This makes me always want to come back and enjoy your words. I sometimes feel that I am stepping along the stones, with you.

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  31. The stories I write are as real to me as the world I'm living in. It's funny you tackled this topic, as I was just having a conversation with someone over the weekend about something very similar. As I begin to wrap up my first draft, I've decided to give every part of me to the story, and essentially, allow my protagonist to take over my body. I eat what he eats; I watch the shows he would watch. He chose the songs currently on my playlist - he even found a way to change my ringtone to his. Punk.

    Obviously, there are exceptions. I still interact online as myself - blogging and tweeting and all that good stuff. But, to the maximum extent possible, I'm living life through the eyes of my character until my draft is finished. (Yes, I even printed the same worksheets he would be doing for homework, and I do them before bed each night. Woaaahh.)

    The point is, it does make me very emotional when I sit down to write. I'm not simply putting words on a page; I feel everything the character feels when he is in certain situations. It produces a few laughs, but mostly tears, as his life has not been easy. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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  32. I believe that each thing we write has our own mark on it, our own piece of what we chose to give up and or spill about ourselves.

    It may be small or it may be striking, but it looks and feels like us, in every way.

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  33. You tie words together so beautifully, it's a joy to read. Every time, too. It's crazy.

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.