Writing is a process, a journey into memory and the soul.-– Isabel Allende
The first time I read this quote, that’s what came to mind. Traveling through a journey of”memory and the soul”, implies a certain awareness of the people, circumstances, experiences, successes, disappointments, failures . . . all the things that brought us to this moment.
The awareness is what allows us to create characters that our readers identify with, bond, and connect with. Sherilynn Kenyon, Nora Roberts, Jim Butcher, Terry McMillan, Walter Mosley, Chris Abani, and many others, have all created exceptional and memorable characters – we cry with them, celebrate with them, call them out by name . . . long for them. And their stories live with us long after the book ends. The success of these authors is that they have permitted themselves to access memory and soul.
The process however is never easy and I’ve reached the conclusion that it has to take place deliberately. Nothing happens by accident. We’ve all picked up a book with a great cover and an even greater tag line and back cover blurb. Between the covers, we find the beginning, middle and end but we close the book with the feeling that the book lacked heart.
It was grammatically and structurally sound but somehow, we don’t connect with the characters and they are quickly forgotten. Heart has to come from the author. I suppose if there were any good place for author intrusion, this would be it.
Your journey has molded you for the greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. –Asha Tyson
The process of writing requires bravery – acknowledging our own personal demons, our strength, our resiliency; courage – to confront them, and then commitment to work through them. It’s commonly accepted that a writer leaves her imprint on everything she writes. You get a glimpse into the writer by what she chooses to write, issues and themes reflected in the storytelling, how the story is told, when the story is told.
Working through this process is a personal struggle for me. I write with the door closed but there are times when I feel people peeking over my shoulder – metaphorically speaking – and that inhibits free expression. There are life experiences that I fear I may never write about because I’m afraid of being judged or ridiculed.
I’m getting better and my writing is getting stronger. I’m keeping an open mind to all kinds of experiences and opportunities – you never know what you can do until you try, right? The bottom line is that you keep going.
Trust in life. Trust in yourself.