Fiction Daily.
A blog on writing, writers and why we read. Posted most mornings by Marion Blackburn.
Struggle, write, repeat Pt. 2
When I looked over the few objects in that paper bag -- a poem by Lucien Zell, an African prayer, a passage by Tennessee Williams, a photo of Vaclav Havel and my green card -- I was taken to a mental place I haven't known in years, a place of clarity and dedication.

It was a mental image maybe I've never known before, a clarity brought by the combination of the freedom and experiences I knew before I was married joined with the knowledge I now have of stability and old-fashioned hard work.

Whatever happened, as I sat on the floor reading Tennessee Williams, I found solace in his words.

... I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed.... This was security at last. I sat down and looked about me and was suddenly very depressed.

He is describing what takes place after the success of The Glass Menagerie, and goes on to call the satin sofa in his hotel room revolting ... that he has already grown too fat for his fashionable suit.

As I lay in bed Tuesday night, I put together this reading from Tennessee Williams with some thoughts from another favorite writer, Truman Capote.

For years before his death, Capote was working on a work titled, "Answered Prayers." That comes from a proverb by St. Teresa of Avila, More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.

For some time I have pined over writing, almost as if it were lost to me somehow. I grieved over writing.

Why? Because it wasn't perfect. Because every time I sit to write I fall short and never more than with the novel. For some time now I have done little work because it seems what I write is so, well, ugly somehow.

Going back to that night ... after reading Tennessee and remembering Capote's title, I realized that my "unanswered prayer" of writing is the thing of value itself ... that to have everything completed and perfect would be a living death for me, like other "answered prayers" often become.

I felt overjoyed, and could hardly sleep. I wanted to get out of bed and start writing immediately, but forced myself to sleep until 5 a.m., when I awoke.

All day yesterday I worked on the novel.

I am reading through all the chapters and pages ... probably about 200 by now. My goal is to see where I am in terms of character and plot and move forward, however slowly.

But, maybe I can do it without the sense of dread and failure that haunt me otherwise when I sit down to work on it. The struggle is the meaning ... that's always been a personal motto of sorts. It's just never given me any solace. Maybe now it will.

2007-12-20 11:54:54 GMT
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