Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Etch your soul on the tattered page

(by Ciara)

When I first started as a book blogger, I was starry-eyed and tongue-tied at meeting my first Author. And my second. And third. And so on, these Artists who, god-like, constructed the vibrant worlds between the pages of my beloved novels. My first thought was: "Squeeee! Let me bathe in your brilliance!"

Eventually I realized Authors were ordinary people who had grocery lists and dirty socks. The glaze wore off, but the empathy grew. Writing a griping, emotion-filled story is harder, much harder, without god-like powers. It requires more than blood, sweat, and tears. It requires soul, and soul is an intimate, embarrassing thing. Imagine walking through Times Square and stopping every person to share your deepest, darkest moments. You worst fears. Everything in you that is good. Everything in you that is shameful.

"Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open."
Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within)

I didn't understand that until I finished writing my second book. It's like I didn't understand my parents until I became one myself. Some things I understand academically, but I don't really, really know them until I've lived it. Now that I understand that, every book that I read has become a coded diary. What darkness inside the author has she transcribed on these pages? Which tears has she shed? Which hearts has she broken?

A story can be fine without that messy emotional input, but it can only be great with the tarnished, shining soul of the author staining its pages.

And that takes a big set of balls to splash your darkness across the blank page like so much dirty laundry.

We are advised to be ourselves on social networking to connect with readers, while still being professional. Be you, but only the good parts. Show your colors, but not if they offend. Writing a book is different. It's the black parts that make it interesting, and it's those parts that make writing a terrifying endeavor. I know I have the tendency to edit my own darkness out of my books, just like I edit it out in my public persona. It takes courage I'm still searching for.

So while my starry-eyed wonder for the glowing gods who write books is no more, it's been replaced by something real: the deep respect of a soldier who has seen her first battle. Now when I meet a new author, my first thought is this: "I salute you, comrade."

1 comment:

Gabriella Hewitt said...

Totally agree with you. It is a delicate balance between being yourself and being professional. I think I am way cooler in the written form. The regular me is quite a bit quirky and I tend to have foot in mouth disease. LOL

That said, I would like to contact DIK about a guest blog but the contact button seems to not work. How can I contact you?

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