Memory Lane is treacherous this time of year

In last night’s post I quoted Anne Lamott on finding the center of a story and writing from the passion in that center. I find myself struggling to finish pieces because somewhere between the third and fourth quarters, I often lose the point.

But tonight, I did a writing exercise that…well, hurt. I wrote out the almost-love-story of a boy and a girl who seem to be a match made in heaven. But at the height of their passion, they are separated by distance and diverging life roads, and never reunite.

It hurt because it was my almost-love-story. Yep. Before there was me and Tamer, there was me and one-who-shall-remain-nameless. This little trip down memory lane brought up the many conflicting emotions of an angst-filled 20 -year-old girl and the very real residual pain rejection can leave. I made it to the end of this story, not only because I knew from the beginning how it would end, but because I journeyed with the girl of my story through all her passion and pain. I loved and lost along with her not just because it was a former version of me, but because I knew what those feelings were like. That’s how a good writer follows through with a good character, and ipso facto, a good story.

Now, I’m not a member of the camp that says you have to write only what you know. Obviously, in this exercise I did that, but I believe that if a writer can take the time and effort to really connect with what a character is experiencing emotionally, the details of the story–whether or not the ending is already known–will come together naturally.

This goes back to the post I wrote about the relationship between having lots of experiences and being a good writer. Sure, it helps to have a breadth of life experiences, but if you extract an emotion from one experience–say, rejection–you can apply it to a totally different set of circumstances you have never experienced and effect the same emotional response.

And that’s the plan for this almost-love-story of mine. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s turning out. 🙂

 

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