I had just left work reflecting on how satisfying writing can be. The usual route lured me
home as I drove down Bonaventure Boulevard. I came to the same stop light I have passed for
the last fifteen years, but today as I cast a glance out my right side window, something unusual caught my eye. In the lane right next to mine, a silver-grey car was wearing bullet holes on the driver’s side. I had to look twice to see if they were real. It was reminiscent of the final fatal scene of Bonnie and Clyde. As I studied the bullet holes closely I noticed that they had been professionally applied to the side of the car and I wondered why someone would go to the trouble and the expense to have bullet holes painted on the side of their car. Clearly, the driver was trying to make a statement, but what?
I studied the man driving the car. He looked normal enough. What was he trying to cover up? Was he hiding some flaws or imperfections on his outdated vehicle? If so,what a clever way to do it. Was he trying to draw attention to himself or to the car? Did he need attention that much? The light turned green and the man drove on never to be seen again, by me anyway, but the whole incident played with my imagination all the way home. I didn’t even turn the radio on that afternoon. In some twisted way, it made me think of how we put decals of distraction on areas of our own lives that aren’t working so well. Aren’t we clever to figure out a way to cover up our flaws and imperfections that way, or so we think.
There is a quote by Sondra Barnes that says, “Hoping you would love me for myself, I hid from you all of those parts of me I thought you wouldn’t like.” This quote reminds me of what I sometimes do with my writing. Hoping you will like my writing, I sometimes hide what I think you won’t like. It takes a lot of energy to hold down, to hide, to distract. I am still learning that when my characters want to be something, do something or say something I need to let them fly because I now know that some of my best writing resides amidst the flaws and imperfections of my characters.
Every once in a while, there is an edge that we reach when we are writing. I call it the rim. When we reach the rim, we must not stop there. It is imperative to push ourselves beyond the rim, to feel the discomfort and to allow our characters to do, say, and feel what they want to, even when it may seem taboo. This type of taboo writing can feel dangerous at times but it only comes once in a while and if we don’t push through and grab it when it appears, we lose the tremendous energy that accompanies it. I am finally learning to leave the decals of distraction behind and uncover this raw type of writing. It is where the energy lies after all and your readers will certainly feel it.
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