Writing in depth

Alice of Wintersong has a great post about a technique for writing in depth. I've been thinking about it since, dredged up some well buried thoughts that alternately entertained and appalled me, came up with nothing when I set out to write it all down. Rather, I tried to set out without knowing what I would write. The idea is to keep your pen on the paper and keep writing without thinking about it. I can't do it; I can't let go.

I learned as a very young child to keep my emotions, and the events that caused them, to myself. My mother had no sympathy for my problems. Most often her reaction would be something along the lines of, 'How could you do this to me?' If something bad happened, like the guy who exposed himself to me in a hallway, and I told her about it, I would get more restrictions on my freedom, ostensibly to keep me safe, but no sympathy, no consolation. I was supposed to behave in such a way as to avoid anything that produced strong emotions. I didn't behave, I didn't live in a box, I kept my mouth shut and my feelings to myself, a very hard habit to break. So this is probably the most you will ever get about my feelings. And my writing will never be compelling.

3 thoughts on “Writing in depth

  1. Ah, feelings and emotions. I’ve spent the last week coughing and scanning an album of photos I once made for my mother. Photos of long gone family members. A grandmother who died at 54, names the same for generations. Endlessly guessing at dates while remembering the why of that person or the who of that one. Finding that little blurb about the Margaret Millicent Barnum yesterday really touched me deeply even tho I knew it verbally echoed the sentiments of the time. She had been much loved. There was a picture of her on my mother’s desk while I was growing up. Mother was named after her as was I. Of course, they didn’t speak of it. LOL
    I learn to write about things like this and feel a better person.
    I truly hated my mother, poor woman, and now as an adult I feel great pity for my brilliant father. He died a very sad drunk. I start his mother’s pictures when I finish the last album. I may spend a few weeks crying over that.
    Ah, feelings.

  2. Oh but Ruthe, I think the problem in one short blog is that there’s so many layers to the subject: putting yourself in your writing, that the fact that you don’t have to expose your innermost thoughts in order to do it was left out. I wish I could come up with an off the top example to point out what I mean, but my brain doesn’t work that fast these days–probably never did. The process is too complicated to cover in a single blog post. If I write: “Uncle Ralph had red hair but the hairs growing from his nose were gray. He loved eating ice cream cones” you can “see” Uncle Ralph eating ice cream in your mind. If I write the same words another way: “I watched the little gray hairs growing from Uncle Ralph’s nostrils nearly dip into the ice cream every time he tipped his head down to take bites from up his favorite ice cream cone, his red hair spilling into his eyes at the same time” gives you a vivid picture of Uncle Ralph, but it also gives the reader an impression of what the writer’s personality is like–at least more so than the first example. See what I mean? It’s awfully complicated. But the writer should not be unduly concerned that a reader would decide that she/he is a little too focused on “yukky” things…tells you more about the reader than the writer doesn’t it? I’m no teacher, but when you write about the things you care about YOU come through in what I consider to be great depth. It’s those times I feel inadequate to add a comment. Anyway, if the “practice” brought up feelings that still bother you, it’s probably time to forgive and let go if you haven’t already. I wrestled with myself about even writing this post, but thought there may be those who’d be interested in sharing writing ideas. I hoped it wouldn’t make anyone think I was questioning their writing at all. Thanks for the linkin. I have some ideas for writing exercises for any and all readers who might be interested in joining in writing exercises and I hope to attract more readers who may be interested.

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