12/02/2008

Happy New Year!

A few days late, but things always get a bit busier this time of year, eh?

Sunday was the first day of Advent and technically the first day of the new liturgical year. In all my days at Catholic school plus the last few my gals have attended, I've not felt like Advent was the start of a new year. This year though, I really felt it, the Beginnings as the first child of the new year was baptised and the first purple candle of the wreath was lit.

Perhaps I needed to start over a bit earlier than the Gregorian reckoning. It's been a rough 6+ weeks with the rearrangement of a great many plans, not the least of which was/is my MFA.

I'm still pursuing my MFA, but I'm switching programs to one more local that has residencies only once a year instead of twice. Most of the last few weeks have been mourning and grieving (and gnashing of teeth early on, saying goodbye overly late), but I'm now looking forward as one usually does at the beginning of a year. The change will mean de-emphasizing some projects and dusting off others, but mostly creating *new* material.

I'm rolling around the idea of "writing for myself," something I've been encouraged to do by more than one mentor recently. I'm remaking the story behind that phrase - the old story has stuff like "write for yourself - cause no one else really cares" or "write for yourself - cause you'll never make a living off something so obscure/common-place" or "write for yourself - cause who else will listen to what you have to say?"

I picked up a copy of Lynda Barry's What It Is. Lynda is a hapa-pinay...I found her because of a post on one of my FilAm forums. I don't clearly remember the post, but what stuck was her name, her drawing, and her book. She questions a lot, questions, questions, questions, and I love that because it opens up rather than narrowing into a specific 'writer's intent.' By the time I got to the section "Writing the Unthinkable," I began to remember that "writing for myself" was what I used to do - I wrote to tell myself stories.

Fear and Doubt, they're always asking questions too, but ones that close down rather than open up, and Barry reveals the only answer that stops their questions:

I Don't Know.

I don't know if this is any good, or if the plot is all messed up, or if the character should be gay or straight, or if a theme is over-wrought even before it's finished.

But I want to find out - what happens, who are they, why do I care, what do they become?

I'm interested in failures and redemption, how communities heal and harm, where magic and reality meet and blur. I'm interested in telling my story, the stories I've heard, the stories I need to hear.

So this year, I'll be writing for myself, cause I don't know, but I want to find out what the stories are and where they go.

Next: Collaborative Storytelling

1 comment:

Snickering Corpses said...

I've always understood that you "write for yourself" because if what you're writing doesn't interest you, how will you write your best? It's not a matter of ignoring others or fearing others, it's a matter of writing things that give you a passion for the story that others will pick up on when they read it and thus perhaps share that passion for the story as they read.

Unless you're doing a commissioned work, the only audience you have to please is you and God. If either of those is displeased, it won't matter how successful it is, you won't be happy. If both of those are pleased, then what anyone else thinks of it will be bonus if good, irrelevant if bad.