Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birthday Boy

"Grown don't mean nothing to a mother.  A child is a child.  They get bigger, older, but grown?  What's that suppose to mean?  In my heart it don't mean a thing. "
 ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

My eldest turns eleven today.  He’s almost five feet tall and many times, I’m startled when he enters a room, or when I reach my arm across his shoulders to find they are almost as broad as mine.  I have moments of choked panic when I think of him leaving.  His feet stretch to the bottom of his bed, where he sprawls, quite often, a lean personification of undirected purpose.  He has a short temper with me.  In the car, I turn my head suddenly to see him, reminded of when he was a baby, just he and I driving, my arm extended so he could curl his fat little hand around my index finger.  His cushioned knees and smooth skin.  His delighted, high-pitched laugh.  His angry fits.  The way he’d work a room, those many times when he was the only child there, all attention on him, our hopes like buoyant beams on his face.

My smart, gorgeous boy.  When you were very small, you’d spread your picture books around you, organizing and talking to yourself.  Everyone was awed by your concentration, your self-sufficiency.  You’re a sensitive child, with an innate sense of justice and what is right, and I admire you for that.  Keep your moral barometer; it is accurate.  Keep your confidence; it will sustain you.  Keep your sensitive soul; it will make your life rich and meaningful.

Happy birthday, wonderful boy. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Overheard conversation

A little girl, maybe five or six years old, leaving dance class.  Calls out to her friend, similarly suited in pink and black. "Do you ever confuse yourself?"

"What?" from across the parking lot.

Being tugged along by her mother, craning her neck.  "Do you ever confuse yourself?"

A short pause.  "Yes," comes the answer.

"Me too," says the first ballerina.  "I confuse myself a lot."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Writing Fiction: an Act of Willfulness?

In an interview in The New Yorker, Jhumpa Lahiri said:

"And yet writing stories is one of the most assertive things a person can do.  Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconceive, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself."

She talked about being a non-assertive person and how writing became for her, a way of saying "Listen to me," when she was accustomed to just listening.

When I read this, I pictured her process of writing as an act of going outward, of reaching out to others, when my own process seems to be one of delving inward, and I wondered if the act of writing is the same for most writers, or a process that's as different as people are.  Do you feel that creating stories is an exploration of yourself, an expression to others, or something else entirely? 

When I write, I'm not thinking about readers or how it will be interpreted, but only of the creation and my intentions and hopes for it.  Thinking about readers comes later, in the editing, once I'm able to have some distance and apply practical considerations.  How much of this process is tied into the very nature of my personality, I don't know.  I am introverted and pretty self-sufficient.

How does your personality affect your writing; is it an outward process like Lahiri's or a journey to the center of you?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Charles Morgan, forgotten novelist

"There are moments, above all on June evenings, when the lakes that hold our moons are sucked into the earth, and nothing is left but wine and the touch of a hand."          
  ---Charles Morgan

***Forgotten novelist alert***

Charles Langbridge Morgan (22 January 1894 – 6 February 1958), was an English-born playwright and novelist of English and Welsh parentage. The main themes of his work were romantic love, mysticism, and a longing for the timeless and sublime through telling the stories of idealistic and artistic protagonists.

Read more about him and his work here and especially here.
"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka