Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Buttoned Up

Books saved my life as a child. They showed me a world of possibility and made me believe I could find it. To me, a Writer is a magical being, one who spins worlds from her imagination, sees beyond facts to meaning, grasps essence and translates.

A current editing project tarnishes that image. I see folks claiming degrees in Creative Writing or MFAs who cannot construct a decent sentence, let alone write an article that instructs or informs. Instead of the great calling I've always imagined it to be, writing starts to look like something anyone with access to a piece of paper and a pencil could claim. A "poet" who read aloud definitions from a dictionary sort of sealed the deal for me. These words called to her, you see. The beauty of her attention elevated their definitions to poetry.


So I've been wondering why I spend my life pursuing an ideal that may not exist outside my imagination. The waste book that so captivated me also haunted me. Why am I digging for stories? Shouldn't I be digging latrines?

Then I went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

In less than three hours, that movie restored my faith. It is the work of many people doing many tasks (computer programming and makeup and photography), but they were all engaged in telling a story that illustrates what it means to live with intention. The writer wove a bizarre premise into a tale of human needs and emotions that refocused things for me.

(And can I just say that when Queenie reacts to the news that Benjamin met his father with an outraged, "The hell he is!" I laughed. When she yells, "Not after all this time," she is speaking for me, saying what I cannot.)

Everyone experiences events. Some describe them well. A precious few spin stories that illuminate. There is magic in that.


Michelle O'Neil said...

Can't wait to see it! Hope you and your skinny buddy are having fun!

George said...

Just continue the magic...let others be pulled into your imagination. You've always done that, i suspect.

Go Mama said...

In any creative endeavor, as in anything, there exists a range of experience--from crap to transcendence-- available for all who might be drawn to it. A buffet of possibilities...any and everything is available for you to choose. The question is, what will YOU be drawn to, to put on your plate? And will there be others who choose the same thing you do, so you can share similar experience?

In a way, writing IS available to anyone with a blank piece of paper and an idea (or a computer.) That's the incredible thing about it.

Why pursue an ideal that may not exist outside your imagination? Because you do. I suppose because you MUST. If you weren't, you'd drop it, regardless of how many people you reach. By the same token, frustrating as it is, sometimes a book about latrines sells more than a fantastically written, moving, and personal story. And McDonalds outsells plenty of better-tasting burgers made with real meat.

go figure.

Love you J. Keep on keepin' on...

Deb Shucka said...

I was thinking about writing a poem with all these stupid word verification things that are almost words. Is that wrong?

You know, I hope, that you are a storyteller extraordinaire. I need to go see Benjamin Button now to experience another good story.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Suzy was just telling me about that movie, I cannot WAIT to go see it!

Keep the faith!

luckyzmom said...

Yes, you are one of the preecious few!

Amber said...


There is nothing better than a well told story that makes people think about life...magic...what if's...pain...and understand something in another way.