Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Story is Our Wailing Wall


Robin Williams died and I can't take in that truth. I've been thinking about all the stuff of life that people can't talk about. 
There are shards of my life that I can't talk about it.

There are things that happened in my past that I cannot even utter. Still. After I'd already grown impatient with myself.
Times when I've been little more than raked earth, half returned to the ash I came from. When I looked with eyes blind to the wonder all around me, but saw it anyway. 
There are things beyond language. I know this because I've been there.

This is where story plays its most fantastic role. It's where we all go to find ourselves tucked between the words. Story is our 
dear diary, 
ebenezer,
wailing wall.

I've done real soul-baring in my writing, but not in a way that would be easy for the reader to locate. Not theme, or subject matter. Not plot. My soul shards are tucked between the words, present, but hidden from plain view. This is the way it must be for me. Every writer is different. For some, it must be front and centre, painful as that is. Why? Because it must.

For me, I must tuck it away. Will that change? Maybe. I don't pursue it, instead I let it pursue me. A writer never travels to the place she intended to go.

I'm good at the road I never wanted to walk. Sometimes I didn't get my way because my dreams were too small. Sometimes . . . well. Here's a poem I wrote a while ago.
With Thanks to Bill Holm
by Bonnie Grove
Words lined up in particular form
bring the mirror to your face,
except
it isn't your reflection as much as it is
the face you thought you'd already forgotten.

I've been taken up by my hapless collar and
pulled through the rake of divorce;
tendons separating from bone.
Bone and marrow finely defined.

Later, I leapt
foolish footing from a cliff's edge I hadn't
noticed, or pretended not to see. I didn't think, only
felt the fall and blessed its decent. The
ragged bits of me weightless in the movement;
fantom limbs.

I forgot
the sensible thing, the priority of self
preservation and gave it up
for a guy with blue eyes, his hapless collar tented at the
back. His raked form lovely to my missing eyes.

All these years
for the sake of the heat of the hand in the middle of the night.
The one that has been there for years. Will be.
             The heat that could melt a stone. 


Tender writer, all raw-souled and roiling, how do you put yourself in your work? Are you front and centre? Tucked between the words? A shadow falling across the page, or a charge of light illuminating the ink?

4 comments:

Suzy Parish said...

"A writer never travels to the place she intended to go." So true for me! There were emotions in my novel I never intended to feel and yet I found myself sobbing through some scenes. I am a hidden shard person myself, except that mine are more like waves that wash up unexpected items on the shore. I love your post and I've always loved your writing. I was thinking the other day, what a different person I am now that I have finished another manuscript. The process changed me, which was totally unexpected. I had expected to feel the emotions of my characters and I had to work through times when I knew I was holding back, trying to spare them and I realized it was me I was trying to spare. The amazing thing was when I hurt my characters I was the one who was healed. God bless your writing!

Sharon K Souza said...

Beautiful, Bonnie.

I'm hidden shards, for sure, except they aren't always so hidden.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

In my fiction, I'm a shard. I often wonder what bits of Paint Chips some think are me. I think they would be surprised to know.

I have written some non-fiction that was much more obvious. Mostly that was dealing with the death of a friend or loved one. Those pieces make me feel so exposed and at risk.

Thank you for sharing this poem, Bonnie. It's beautiful and made me feel not so very alone.

Anonymous said...

I wrote for years under the belief that writing was meant to be something outside of myself, that I was creating fiction characters that had nothing to do with me. Occasionally though I'd catch a glimpse of myself in a character I'd created, and rush to change it, and it scared me so much that I could reveal myself without knowing. Eventually I felt the Lord challenge me to write my own story, which led to the confronting of my deepest fears on the page, and powerful, profound healing. I'm no longer afraid to write characters that may reflect me, or reveal a truth of my personality. I may not ever want to talk about such stuff personally, but through my writing I've made peace with who I am.