Dearest keen listeners, collectors of truth and emotion, rivulet by rivulet. You who wait for the light of a new day and recognize wisdom waiting at the edges of that light. Please don’t close your eyes. Not yet.
Learning is my purpose. I can’t recall now just how long the thunderous epiphany thundered on the day it arrived, but there it was. I am meant to gather information. The challenge has been figuring out how to process and apply. What to keep for myself, what to give away, what to rework into a story or piece together into another. When to wait in the quiet for information to reveal meaning. So many bits of matter-of-fact or glorious or not quite clear at first comes along for me to sit with, to fondle and carry around until finally …
Learning doesn’t really pay well so day jobs are necessary. But day jobs don’t hinder the process, not at all. For instance, working in customer service for a couple or three decades has revealed several important lessons, such as, common sense is not a biological imperative. Humans are gonna keep on keeping on with or without.
I’m not hating on my fellow peeps, promise.
The truth is people aren’t innately stupid, brilliant, mean or kind or angry or scared, they’re just empty vessels that got half-way filled long before they realized what was happening. That’s what they’re doing when you pass them on the streets, when they bump you rudely while staring at their phones or grimacing at their significant others, while ignoring your distress. Other people. They’re just trying to count the things they know and feel and they’re kind of stunned that no one else out there can explain why or how they’re already half-filled with seemingly useless attributes, tics, instincts, biases, and so forth. What’s the right thing to do? Embrace it all, go searching for more, hate their circumstances?
What do we do with all this?
I’m grateful that writing came along. Since snatching hold of the tail end of creativity I have learned more important lessons, such as, a writing writer writes. A writing writer learns. Ideas open like unexpected gifts, voices call on the wind, reason appears out of nowhere. And when none of that is happening, I write my way through. I journal, I type in this little white window of nothing with expectancy—expectant that y’all might lend insight or perspective discovered in your own corner of life. But y’all don’t talk much. I’m not giving up.
When I sat down to write for an online game just for the heck of it and finger exercises ten years ago I heard a woman say out of nowhere at all, My name is Holly and I have a bizarre story to tell. Nice warm voice, tinged with tragedy and a slight southern drawl. Matter-of-fact. She was no diva, suffered no excessive amounts of humility. She just was. She had this entire life she was willing to show me and I was like a feeble old lady who’d lost her glasses and went feeling around in the dark sure that any moment I’d see everything. I’d see more than what had already been conveyed with that voice, that single sentence: Holly was surviving grief. She was a fighter, willing to keep on fighting. She had accepted that magic and mystery, history and faith, all coexist. She had learned that people die. People live.
I knew without really knowing what I was doing as a writer that her story had to be told in first person present. Nothing else would work. I knew that I was the only person on the planet who knew her perspective. Despite all my fumbly learning as I went, I stuck to that first tidbit of knowledge and held on tight. Now Holly’s story is done and I’ve gone back briefly in time to gather up the remnants of another story.
This one … is different. Grace’s story came on the voice of another. A close narrator with old language. It was beautiful, mesmerizing, poetic. And troublesome. Absolutely nothing I’ve learned about writing, about coaxing out an unfinished story, lends itself to finding Grace’s voice or taking hold of that ghostly sweet-talking close narrator that first appeared out of the ether so long ago. I can see Grace fully formed, see her house, feel her fear. I cannot hear her words.
This lack didn’t deter me when I set out to write the SECOND NOVEL a couple of months ago. I wouldn’t allow it. Now the problem of Point Of View is undeniable. I’ve got 20k+ words devoid of story. I’ve got a lot of words, a lot of information, but no real proof of learning.
What do I do with this?