09 August 2011

A Writer In Progress: Notes from the Right side of my brain

This is random … but thoughts can be unpredictable.
The honorable Toni Morrison once said that:
Every life to me has a rhythm, a shape—there are dips and curves as well as straighaways.  You can’t see the contours all at once.  Some very small incident that takes place today may be the most important event that happens to you this year, but you don’t know that when it happens.  You don’t know it until much later.
                  I like rhythm even though at times the beat may be off and I find myself dancing without affinity to the music—music of life.  I am unable to get a groove going.
                  I like colors and curves—my mood often determines the colors and shapes I feel and see around me.  I want my work to have rhythm, color, and curves, reflecting the variations in one’s life. My life is varied. It moves differently from day to day.  Sometimes it's blue, supple, and melodic. Sometimes red, voluptuous, and staccato. At other times grey, linear, and B-flat. The saying which goes something like, sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty exemplifies the kind of grace that can be found in a chaotic experience.  I want to keep those things in mind when I am writing about character, place, situation.  I want an R&B flavor to my writing but I don’t want to ignore all the other genres of shades and appearances that can describe how life is.

                  I want to write about the messiness of life and how often I/we can get caught up, if only for a moment, how it often overwhelms the more tidy, softer side of living and being.  I want to demonstrate how people are numb to it and treat it as an immutable way of moving through one’s life.  I want not to be afraid of throwing in my biases, my subjectivity, being absolutely real about how I feel. I know that when I write, being subjective is intentional.  It is sometimes the only way that I know how to write, because that subjectivity is my truth.  Yeah, just like that.  And so I write.  Bare-assed literature.


                  At the same time, I don’t want to adhere to one specific formula.  I want to be able to play with the words, manipulate the chords, rearrange the soundtrack, play with perception, meaning, play with the characters, give them unexpected colors.  Blue isn't really blue; it's gold.  I don’t want to be bound by grammar, language, rather, I’d like to show the inconsistencies in manner and speech, let the character or situation surprise, not give you what you expected.  The former doesn’t really appeal to me.  I don’t want to get bogged down by giving the reader what she or he wants, it feels too much like strangulation, and I don’t care to write that way or to have that particular kind of audience.  I have no desire to try and please everyone.  I am seeking to write for an audience that is open to change, challenges, new ways of thinking and living, seeing and treating others, even if the method used to pull those things out in my writing seems unconventional or unorthodox.  Rock that boat.  Disrupt the set-up. Yeah.

                I can accomplish this by choosing to ignore every single suffocating critique of my work, language, point of view that can alter my reality. My expression should not be arrested.  I seek a liberation narrative. I can respect your opinion, but it doesn't have to be mine. Chills.  Smiling brightly.
                  Toni Morrison once said in an interview with Claudia Tate, editor of the book, Black Women Writers at Work, that: There is a difference between writing for a living and writing for life.  If you write for a living, you make enormous compromises, and you might not ever be able to uncompromise yourself.  If you write for life, you’ll work hard, you’ll do it in a disciplined fashion; you’ll do what’s honest, not what pays.  You’ll be willing to say no when someone plays with your work.  You’ll be willing not to sell it.  You’ll have a strong sense of your work, your self-development.
                  Yes, that’s what’s up.  I consider myself a writer for life.  If I’m being honest, I will write about race, class, gender, sexuality and spirituality because that’s what matters to me, that is what I live and experience.  It is how I love.  And that, to me, is relevant and necessary.  I refuse to shy away from these issues because they are unpopular to publishers and the public. No compromising.  I don’t disrespect a writer for wanting to compromise for recognition and to be liked by mainstream readers.  I will let go of any judgment here. It is not my call to make.
Sonia Sanchez, in the same aforementioned text, told the editor, “…since writers want recognition, many would not talk directly about social change…if you see yourself as a victim in a one-to-one relationship, then it’s very difficult for you to see yourself getting out from under the yoke of something called America, imperialism, capitalism, racism or sexism.  If you cannot remove yourself from the oppression of a man, how in the hell are you going to remove yourself from the oppression of a country?  Oh, Sonia, you work my love, girl.  You work my passion and desire to speak truth!  Say that, woman! 
Right now I don’t know what’s going to happen between Sayle Toussaint and Aaron Baker, two protagonists in a story I’m working on.  In many ways, Aaron is changing personality and character from who he might have been at the beginning the story.  All at once he has become insignificant with regard to the way Sayle feels for him or will feel for him as the story progresses.  And while Sayle has a heart of gold as big as anyone you’ll ever meet, she is also not one for putting up with someone’s bullshit, if that’s what they’re dishing out at the moment. So, for instance, if Aaron suddenly decides to don his black male patriarchal hat , Sayle would be quick to tell him to take the fucker off; it ain't happening in her world, let alone her personal or private space. Love does not mean having to tolerate oppression, honey.  Currently, I’m at a loss for words, but I do want to keep going, I don’t want to give up on them or what the story could reveal about them, social commentary and all.  It could turn out to be nothing at all as would be true with so many relationships where nothing happens, nothing changes, endings are far from happy. Uncomfortable. Uneasy. Unexpected. Life is like that.  It’s up in the air, I just don’t know at this point.  I just know that people sometimes get very comfortable in their nothingness. They languish in it, sometimes perish and die there.  Personally, this is a very sad thing, a very unhealthy thing, but to the parties involved, it may be the only way they know how to be and live. Colorless. Shapeless. Without sound.  I’m working on the judgment thing.  Didn’t say I was perfect.  Like my writing, my life is a work in progress.  I’m trying to enjoy the journey and love, love, love myself. 
As I travel and journal through my thoughts, I am finding peace and a pace I can deal with.  Regarding the theme of nothingness that many relationships suffer, I feel that to write about it is to also lessen the amount of dialogue between the parties, as an intentional effort, simply because this nothingness and the contentment or even contempt that one feels for it often happens without any words being exchanged.  Often what is said lacks meaning or feeling as one or both, generally both, have become numb to the act of inactivity, to the act of a non-proactive approach to the relationship, so what is said would be of no consequence; it would not be significant.

Just some random, right-brained shit.  Purple, round, and funky.

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