I think the writing universe was sending me a message today. First, my friend Jenni sent a link to an interview with Gay Talese. In this interview, Talese turns the tables on the journalist and starts asking her questions. It’s really kind of funny. And, in the end, it’s poignant. The journalist originally meets with Talese to ask about a story she wants to write. Something about immigrant cab drivers. Has she ever driven a cab, Talese wonders? No. And that’s where it begins. After more questions, he suggests she write about her own work in the service industry. As a coat check.
He tells her:
Maybe you should write about the problems in the coat room on a rainy day. You should write about what you know – about your affliction with getting the numbers right….If you want to write something that can last…have the willingness to rewrite your story.
Ah, yes, I thought. I printed a copy because this article seemed so relevant. And I thought about about what I don’t want to write. Quickly, I pushed those ideas aside. Too painful. Too complex. Too scary.
Then, while going through my Google Reader tonight, I read this post from one of my writing instructors, Lisa Romeo. The post had a similar message, and once again — it hit home. Lisa shared these words from one of her MFA instructors:
Always go where you are resisting. Write what you are avoiding. Write what you don’t want to write about. Write what scares you. When you think, “oh I can never write about that,” that’s what you need to write. There’s a reason you have those feelings.
As Lisa says in her post…we’ve got to write this stuff. Sure, it might be a total and complete flop. But, then again, it might not be. And if I don’t write it, even as a draft or something that goes in the bottom drawer, how am I ever going to know?
Like I said: a message from the universe. Now, what to do with it?
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