Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Chronicle of Essays and Meditations

The story I write always begins with having the experience first.

After living in Madrid for a year, I grew obsessed thinking that every new experience would then become a short story or novel.

Ten years later, I found myself still toiling on the the same scenes from the past.

Now I've given up The Novel of Life. One, because it was toil.

And two, because my experiences in Madrid are too far removed from where I am now. I pored over the Spain material until I could no longer see the important connections.

It was a romantic fiction based on my life in Spain, which I painstakingly tried to evoke the mood, characters, and conflicts. But time has flown beyond these adolescent insecurities, and delivered me into a place with greater contradiction, more openness, and less answers.

There are few rules here, but the rules I go by are based on the sheer daily practice of examining my thoughts through writing. I know them by instinct.

What's painfully clear to me is that I stopped believing in the Spain stories, and that's why I stopped writing them.

But I knew I could write. And so I dedicated myself to writing other kinds of stories (whether they were essays, articles, reviews, or meditations, I don't think it matters).

But I could believe in these stories. They reflected my innocence about the world, and provided me with an enormous amount of energy and interest in what I was doing.

So I scrapped my novel with few reservations. A great freedom came out of this decision, and I feel I am embarking on new territory.

I've mentioned before in On Blogging and Technology for Writers that a conventional blog can be a profoundly creative outlet for a writer. Anyone who has been blogging long enough will attest to the discipline built into the practice. This discipline builds on the dynamic between readers and writers on the web. And soon, you'll find the motivation to create a community around your words.

I call this blog a chronicle because it chronicles my life in written form. The way I write, the things I believe, my passions, my failures, inevitably seep through the text of these digital pages. But none of it will hold a set pattern, a formula, if you will.

The only pattern of this blog is Time and what Time does to me. My language, the topics I choose, and how I present myself to the reader, will arise out of Time.

The best way to tell a story is to find a comfortable place, like a sofa, with lots of light in the room. It's always nice to have a friend next to you, and that's how I imagine my reader.



noor said...

The pattern of anything is Time. What may seem interesting now, may not seem so interesting five years down the road. What was felt and the style of writing might not have changed much over the years, but it remains sort of the same. What a person knows now, doesn't mean they necessarily knew it before.
I think it's pretty cool how engaging the whole process is. A person writes whatever is that they're going through and the reader is either yeah, whatever about it or interested in it.

Ms. Mulberry said...

I'm assuming this is the newly written essay you mentioned. It says so much about your direction and purpose: Do you find writing easier now?

You have begun a journey - in your present - which will take you and your readers into your future. I am sure many of us will enjoy accompanying you.

I really like your image of the sofa/light and the reader in a chair listening/reading. It gives the writing an immediacy and a personal slant, I think.

Keep writing and, perhaps, more fruit juice & a daily multi-vitamin & 2 good meals a day. A published poet once told me she felt that without her personal well-being and energy, her writing lost its strength and insight. ( I don't mean that in a "preachy" way).

Think you've begun a new adventure you'll enjoy & we "chair sitters" will follow you.

syrimne said...

nice blog post, always. I also commend you on your decision, I know it's a tough one to let go of a project after having put so much thought and effort into it. I've done the same thing, a few times now, and it never ended up being a mistake though. One I ended up returning to in a *very* different form (so it was essentially a whole new book, from beginning to end), and the other just, well, died. I think it's a huge step in the growth of a writer to recognize when it's time to move on, especially from a project that is to wrapped up in personal identity and the stories that color that identity. On a purely practical note, every book written makes us better writers, even if we recognize that we have to kill a project to grow past it.

I love your blog posts...keep writing them! I also know you'll write a book one day. You've just got too much to say for it to be otherwise.


Lethe said...

Thank Julie,

I really appreciate your warmth and compassion. You are an inspiring friend, and I'm glad we've had so much time to work together and learn and grow from each other.


Lethe said...

Ms. Mullbery,

Actually, I may have over-anticipated that. The essay I mentioned is in the works, it's a much longer essay . . . and this post was at the beginning of the first draft of the other essay.

The essay I wanted you to read should be ready in a couple days. . . It's called: "Writing Life: A Tragic Story"


Mariana Soffer said...

I really enjoy reading this post, it is very interesting to hear other people thoughts and hurdles, specially when it is so well written as in this post.

Lethe said...


Thank you, writing is my "art," without sounding too presumptuous. I try to write with clarity and accuracy, and I write for people to enjoy the essays, as I enjoy writing them myself.


tashabud said...

Hi Lethe,
So, this is it then, huh? No more
stories for The Novel of Life. I'll never find out the rest of the story. I'll always be wondering.

Ah, but I shouldn't wonder, right? Because you're now this terrific, sophisticated literary webzine writer.

I shall come by often to read more of your new life stories.

Hope things are going great for you.