Saturday, October 10, 2020

Process IV

Question: How do you write in the style of an author whose work is intimately woven with life as they had experienced it in these United States when their life’s journey is not merely different from your own, but different as a direct result of the social structure that created the difference between theirs and yours?

To put it another way, their point of view made their writing what it is. For me to emulate that I should, what? I cannot pretend to be him. And I cannot write from my point of view simply emulating those elements of style which make his work unique; use of color, description of space, expanding of time, sense of alienation, anxiety, existential dread.

I cannot do this because the most important element, for him, his reason for writing, was protest. Expressing his walk of life, or mine, was not enough. The reader needs to be aroused, outraged, and moved to action.

Last Wednesday my professor asked the class how our writing was going, present progressive tense, as though it had already begun and is in process. I had not yet written a word. It’s an eight-page vignette that is due in a little over two weeks. But I have been engaging myself in these questions and finally arrived at a scenario, which I storyboarded yesterday and wrote the first pages this morning.

I may even use some of this post in my artist’s statement for that story.

The work on the play continues, just this week I had something of a revelation. Every piece, the play, the gothic short story, the protest vignette, has its own agenda. They each, however, require tension. For the play script I continue to be haunted by the observation of Joe Barnes, "It is hard to write a compelling play about two characters who are basically decent." They are decent, a mother-daughter duo who have (generally) open avenues of communication.

How to create conflict that does not involve men, men with a capital M. That it does not involve father, or boyfriend, or lover, that their struggle, if there is a struggle (there has to be a struggle) is between them, and not some other person. If you do not understand why this is important, you haven’t been paying attention.

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