Friday, January 05, 2007

The situation and the story

I'm here at the Mt. Calvary Monastary emersed in the Writer's Workshop with Nora Gallagher and Barbara Brown Taylor. My brain is on fire. My soul is raw, exposed on the ledge. The winds are blowing intensely at the mouth of the canyon. And the Spirit is equally carving on my stone exterior to reveal the part of me that needs to escape and be known.

Nora asked us the defeaning question, "what is your story about?" The situation is the event. It's the diary I keep each day describing life's circumstances. The story however lies between the lies, sometimes more obvious than others. Her example was Moby Dick. The situation is a man on the hunt of a whale. The story is obsession.

Our exercise, simple and unassuming, was to write for five minutes about our favorite dessert. So here goes. I'll share my little story with you.

my favorite dessert

My favorite dessert is a handful of EL Fudge cookies and a glass of Jamieson. Somehow they go so well together. Particularly after a day of hospitals and existential crisis brought on by demons seen and unseen, the pleasure of chocolate icing in a vanilla cookie with aged whiskey eases the evils of the world back into a corner where the gate can be closed at least long enough to sleep for a few hours. And when the hours before cookies and milk have pushed against my anger button by some asshole of proportion only equal to their own shitness, well, biting the heads off of some unsuspecting elf downed with a straight shot kicks the ass of that fucking bastard that much the better.

Ok, there it is. Situation and story.

Barbara gave tips on how to bind the critic. Free writing, free association, writing without editing, having a dialogue with your critic, all of these techniques are intended to free the writer from their own worst enemy - the critic who lies within all writers. We need the critic; to determine if we are speaking to the audience. Most importantly writers need to be in an open relationship with their critic. Easier to write than to do. Hopefully, this week, my critic went home for awhile and left me to my own worst end and best writing.

I have, I believe done of some of my best work this week. Time will tell. More later.

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