I've been taking a class with Dara Lurie about storytelling and memoir. I took it believing I had a story to tell about failure and forgiveness. It's been a great class. Dara is an amazingly intuitive teacher with the kind of supportive, I'm-walking-this-path-with-you energy I've encountered in only a couple of teachers in my life. My classmates are fascinating womyn with amazing stories of their own to tell. The courage each one has shown in sharing her story is humbling and inspiring and it's been a pleasure to encounter these womyn of grace and talent.
I've learned alot in this class, though not necessarily what I expected, and I want to share it with you. Yes, there were lessons about mechanics: narrative, arcs, timelines. There were techniques, like mind maps, and I'm captivated by 'dreamstorming'. I learned a little about the stages of creative process and how to get past creative blocks. But I learned more, things that weren't in the curriculum:
--My life, especially childhood, was no piece of cake, but I have been, and am, blessed in so many ways.
--We all have pain, but most of us don't have to look very far to see someone who has known even more.
--I won't shatter if I write about my past; I've already survived, whether I write about it or not. It truly no longer holds me hostage. Writing it didn't shatter me like I thought it would...it cleared away the broken debris, leaving what is strong and solid in place.
--I don't need my mother to forgive me for my final failure; I need to forgive me. Or rather, I needed to forgive me. So here it is: I forgive her, and me.
--It's time to let the past rest. There will be specks of it, good, bad, ugly, funny, tragic in anything I write because it's part of me, but it isn't me. I'm more than the sum of my life experiences.
--Making myself show up to write has been awesome. Like, truly AWE-some. Magical. The writing itself has been so-so, but I've done it anyway, and my world didn't end just because every word wasn't born from angels' lips.For six weeks, despite being crazy busy, sick for the last two of them, and suffering from bouts of existential angst, I showed up, not just at class, but at my desk. I wrote when I had no desire, and wrote when all I wanted was to put words on paper. I actually scheduled it. I discovered that Linda genuinely respects and supports me taking time to write; I needed to respect and support it myself.
--Elizabeth Gilbert, and Dara, and others have said that when you show up consistently, creativity will eventually show up too (I'm paraphrasing), and it has. For weeks I've been struggling to write for class. This week, as I was driving home from work, listening to a book on CD, the author described herself in a couple of sentences. Something in what she said transported me within seconds to my little hidden fairy refuge when I was a child, and within another minute a book character, far different than anything I ever could have imagined, appeared. An image formed in my brain that is just clear as a photograph, That evening I did some 'dreamstorming' and a storyline began to emerge, so out of my ordinary that I know the idea came looking for me. This didn't come out of my head; it's coming from somewhere else entirely. I'm not going to talk anymore about it; for once I'm going to ride the wave and let it take me where it will.
There's probably more that hasn't shaken itself loose yet, but It'll show itself when it should. And in the meantime, I'm going to have a great time writing the strange and wondrous story I'm discovering.