A blog reader named Lucy emailed me the other day, just to say hi and remark on some coincidental connections we had. I always love emails like that, especially when they lead me to lovely writing like this:
I remain in the dark, watching them shoot hoops. They always play at night, when darkness softens the day’s glaring heat. Arms and legs tangle in the rough choreography of a pick-up ball game. After another 30 minutes of shots, fouls, passes, and baskets, the tallest one pauses, wipes his face with his soaked-through white t-shirt, and says something to the others. They all agree and lope off the court.
Minutes later, I hear a soft tapping at our door.
Her piece is about Houston, and guy friends playing basketball, and House of Pies. Very much a shared past, even though we were strangers until she contacted me.
Endings are always the most difficult part for me, but when I was lying on my shiny green bedspread, scribbling away at my masterpiece, it didn’t bother me at all that I didn’t know how to end it. All I wanted to do was keep the illusion going, feed my little character with my words and drawings until she lived and breathed on the page.
Sometimes I miss that time, when I didn’t worry about adverbs and plot arcs and Goodreads and facebook pages, when the only thing that interrupted my writing was my mom telling me to wash the dishes or turn off the lights.
Elissa’s book Kiss the Morning Star is coming out soon (6 weeks!) and I can’t wait. I’ve got my copy on pre-order. We met through the St. Martin’s Press contest, which we both won, and since then she has become a friend and inspiration.
Speaking of inspiration, affirmation, education…
I learned that my most glaring flaw as a writer was that the dream stayed in my head. As I wrote sentences, read them over, and revised them, my mind would fill in the many wide gaps in the “story” that never made it from my head to the page. I’d see the dream for myself because it was mine; meanwhile I wasn’t giving the reader a decent shot at even glimpsing it. I had to learn to stop living and dying one line at a time, and to focus on the methodical presentation of a story.
That’s the lesson that I learned a few years ago. Much later than I would have liked, but not too late to fix. For me, returning to my love of mainstream literature opened my eyes. David Goguen explains how he came to the realization and how it made him a better writer in “Ballad of a Sentence Writer.”