Friday, May 31, 2013

At All Cost

“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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Picture Can Be Found Here

The above quote has graced my blog since the early days of Shattered Prose. Those words alone adequately sum up my experience with writing. I believed in order to be a writer, to be true to the craft, you had to live in the moment and experience life first hand. Anyone can imagine the details; living the details is what provides you with an inner library containing file cabinets of emotional index cards to draw from.

So naturally when I took a year off from writing, one would miscue my absence to mean either I wasn’t living fully or I’d given up. Neither would be the case. Writing isn’t always an endless stream of words. For me writing is exploring emotional crevices, watching an endless parade of humanity, and the discovery of new words tattooed beneath the skin of memory like a hidden map. When I write about grief, I want the visceral details of the pain to be visible. I want my readers to experience the raw ache of love lost for those few words, to find themselves slipping beneath my skin and becoming grief embodied.

I use grief as a touchstone here because I’m familiar with that emotional entourage in every which way possible. Every single emotion in existence can be given life. Take pain for example, even there you will find beauty in the details – excavated memories tinged with an unbearable emotional tax, the survival instinct to move beyond, and the hurt which reminds us we still live. I want my readers to not only read my words but to feel as if they were fed a live wire of emotion, a conduit that feeds into their very essence.

Have I stopped writing? No. For a writer not to write, they would have to be emotionally detached from who they are as a person. Our minds are forever calculating, scheming, and creating separate realities, whether it be typed, written, or spoken we can’t remove the storyteller in us. Some writers take years to write a single story, others write like madmen plagued with words. I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

So in this way unexpectedly, I found the emotional baggage needed for a character in my WIP (Work in progress, for those among my readers unfamiliar with the phrase). The answers can always be found in the details if you are willing to carve through flesh beneath skin and bones for the words; if you are willing to scrape open the scabs of memory. For every life, there is a book waiting to be written.

This post is dedicated to Pickles my muse, who died May 31st, 2012 - from an aggressive form of Leukemia.  The writer came into existence with her arrival, but it won’t end with her. Her legacy lives on in my words.

I miss you sweet friend. Underneath the tapestry of my words your spirit still sings.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

You Begin


“Set fire to the broken pieces; start anew.” ~ Lauren DeStefano, Sever

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I was reading something this morning about a father and his two sons helping rescue 17 people in Oklahoma (wish I had their names). When they remarked this wasn't their first rodeo, they were asked if they had any advice. One of the men said, "You begin where you are." I can't say why that one line struck a chord. Maybe because no matter what we deal with in our lives or how many questions we have, the one question is always how or where do I begin? "You begin where you are."

Make no mistake; tragedy will always visit us at some time in our lives, as will an abundance of other life measures. Our better emotional factions seldom leave marks like those of pain, grief, or sorrow. Yet at some point we find ourselves needing, wanting to start over – to begin anew. It is at this place we often stand lost and confused forever looking back to see if perhaps we somehow missed the shortcut. Why do these placeholders imprison us so? Is fear the culprit?

Which leaves me to wonder how many starts and stops do we accrue in a lifetime? Is there some kind of mystical mathematician that allots who needs more chances or hasn’t gotten enough? I’m sorry to say, this is one equation where numbers don’t apply. Life simply happens. We can question the why until we’re blue in the face and still be no wiser when death knocks on our doors. I truly believe the answer to where do we go from here exist within us all; despite mistakes or wrong choices, we can still find it within ourselves to begin again, try again, until the pieces of the puzzle - our lives fit.

Life beats us up enough, without us providing the tools to finish the job. There will always be days of heavy overwhelming apathy, stunted hope, and moments of why bother. Welcome to your humanity.

I’m well versed in how to be a prisoner of my psyche unable to move forward from a place. All of us are. When I took a much needed break to grieve, to compose myself, each day brought the question of where do I go from here and each day left me lacking. As is the nature of the beast life goes on with or without you. Until one day you find yourself asking, what lies beyond today? After so many starts and stops, I found myself hesitating – unsure where to begin.

A quote Amy Reed wrote in Beautiful summed up what I did know about those who read me, “There is a picture of me in their heads, a picture of someone I don't know yet.” How do I get to know her, this woman who is about to begin again? The answer startled me in its simplicity, “You begin where you are, one word at a time.” ~ Indigo

Picture From Here

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Moments in Retrospect



“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~ Ana├»s Nin

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Twilight is a carefree affair playing with the pups in bottom soaked jeans after it rains, with the fragrance of lilac and crabapple blossoms wafting heavy in the air. A patchwork of sprinkles begin to dot the dust covered stones in the driveway. I raise my face to a spatter of wet drops flowing down my neck in gentle rivulets beneath damp clothes. Simple pleasures. Pleasures, which unbidden are catalogued and filed away as I unconsciously map out current writing projects in progress or search future ideas where I can apply this tidbit of euphoria.

All these experiences and emotions accrue into a veritable tableau of memories. How many books are derived from this storehouse? How many stories do we reap in a lifetime unsolicited? Not enough. Too many things rob us of inhibited outtakes in our short human lifespan – Age, time, stress, even our human culpability of making things far more complicated than need be is guilty of this thief. The list goes on. Photographs are taken, occasions are videotaped; censure be damned, we hoard whatever we can of time in little discretionary pockets of remembered moments. Is it enough? What was going through our minds, how did we react, did we even caredo we even know? All veritable questions left unanswered in small visual glimpses left in mementos.

Words somehow escape the pariah of time. They don’t fade or aggrandize, they echo truths even we don’t account for in the telling. Each word is woven together into a tapestry blending all five senses into one garment. With words, a smile isn’t the only hint of happiness in a photo, it’s the blush of a kiss, the warm summer sun on skin or the smell of a cook-out brought to life. Grief is poured solid like concrete shoes that won’t allow us to escape emotional overtures sealed with droplets of tears. Each catalogued moment is etched across a page and stained with our humanity. And still I can’t file away enough or live enough for all the books my life encompasses. In the words of Brandon Sanderson, “Novels aren’t just happy escapes; they are slivers of people’s souls, nailed to the pages, dripping ink from veins of wood pulp.” This, this is why I write, to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. ~ Indigo

Picture From Here