Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If You Live to Be Eighteen

During a very interesting few e-mails sent back and forth to my cousin Barbara Esstman, a published writer whose novels The Other Anna and Night Ride Home have been adapted into Hallmark TV movies, she sent me an article of hers she wrote entitled "The Wisdom of a Thousand Workshops: A Practical Guide to Approaching Your Writing" that had me thinking most critically. I admire her years of expertise in the art of writing - especially with her uncanny ability to jump into perfect metaphors and acquire applicable quotations for every little piece of information.

While giving writing advice in her article I mentioned above, Barbara touched on this interesting point:

"... Flannery O’Connor said that if you live to be 18, you have enough to write about for the rest of your life. But often people quit writing or get stuck because they don’t want to see what the writing is telling them or go where it’s taking them. Or they write around the conflict and excuse their characters from difficult confrontations to save themselves from discomfort, which in turn flattens the dramatic tension. Yet if you push through to the end of a piece and break out on the other side, even if you cry or squirm in the process, you tame the material by coming to know it and giving it form."

I don't know about you, but I definitely feel like I have the world to talk about yet. Or at least this world I know. And I am 18 years old. But I feel like I've seen enough. So much has been flaunted in front of me through media, my friends and family. Through these sources I have seen mistakes made, wrongs righted, lessons learned, and lessons that seem to never find a place in the comprehension of some. Though I have not gone through many life experiences having just graduated from high school in the past year (heck, I'm still going to school, living under my mother's roof) but I can speak novels in length about what I have gathered in my time.

In my time, I could tell you the secret to long and healthy romantic relationships (it's trust!) I could tell you of the importance of watching educational television, at least as much as you watch Jersey Shore (or perhaps - and Mom, this is for you - Desperate Housewives). I could tell you of the importance of spending time with your children; the importance of yes, let's face it - even if I may be a little biased - reading as much as possible; the importance of communication when you're feeling low and not drowning it out with self-pity, "emo" music, or feelings of violence and hatred. And lastly, because we English Majors like to get sappy, the importance of living every day like it could be your last.

Wow! Talk about digression. So what I meant to say about Flannery O'Connor is that in writing, pretty much from young adulthood on we have plenty of stories - enough to constitute writings. The true art, it would seem, is the ability to turn those life experiences into stories we can use to educate or entertain our readers. Like my cousin Barbara wrote to me,"Writers often write about the same themes over and over – they have some obsession with making sense of a certain complexity in the human condition and can’t stop thinking about it. I certainly have those themes that keep cropping up and keep trying to figure out..."

We all have things we've noticed that others haven't. I think it's time we no
longer kept those things to ourselves.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think you digressed at all but instead proved Flannery absolutely correct. Write well, cuz. You have the right ideas and a good spirit.