The writer in the mirror
byon August 14th, 2010 at 08:31 PM (610 Views)
THE WRITER IN THE MIRROR
Even though they don't look lilke us our characters our stories reflect ourselves as writers. At the moment I'm staring into the mirror looking at conflict. Not a pretty picture. Flabby. No muscle tone at all. Okay, that's not entirely accurate. Lots of shapely muscle on the right side and not enough on the left. I do a much more lifting with my right. In other words, I use more thinking skills when dealing with conflict than I do physical ones.
I remember a scene in nursing school. We, as a class, were confronting our program head. She reminded me of Nurse Ratchett. Not a good thing. I don't remember what the complaint was, only that I understood why the other students were making it. Didn't matter much to me since it didn't affect me. That much I do remember. I was there to support the others, sat at the back of the group, a littl apart from them and listened.
And listened. I didn't like what I heard. The program head was not only not hearing what the students were saying, she was also talking down to them. I listened and when I had heard enough, I spoke. Since i don't remember the details, I can't tell you what I said. I do remember Gwen telling me later, "I thought you were going to kill the bitch!" What had I done to warrant that remark? Nothing physical I assure you. I told the nurse what I saw her doing. I was cold and dark. That's the part I do remember. I felt deep, contained, focused. I used my words.
Once before I used my words, or knowledge of them, to defeat someone. It was in court. I was a witness--the victim kinda--of a robbery. Again, I don't remember the details of the situation. I only remember that the accused's lawyer was trying to discredit me. The judge had said if i didn't understand something the lawyers asked, I should ask for clarification. The defense lawyer asked me something that I didn't understand. As I recall it, it was a word that could have two meanings. So, I asked which meaning he meant. Visible deflation. I had been genuinely confused but had created such chaos that he couldn't hold his demeanor. I could see him crumple, the way a balloon does when you let some of the air out.
This is me in conflict. I have a beginners black belt in Aikido. It's a martial art with more non-violent intent than most. At least the way we practiced it. We were doing an exercise and one of my closer friends was on of the attackers. It's a three person attack called randori. I happened to be facing Chris at the time, and in that moment was beaming with delight. Nothing happened. Still, nothing happened. Sensei chimed in and said something. I realized then that it was me. No one could attack me unless I wanted it. So, I changed my attitude and the games began.
So, in my stories, there are no big action scenes. No conflicts. No story. At least not the kind that jump out as drama. I write interesting situations, I guess. Places and people who might, under different circumstances, make for good drama. Fortunately, I am learning this shortcoming of mine and pumping the writerly iron to develop balance. I can only write like me. Just as we can only know what our brains can process through our senses, I can only write through my experience, through my own body's metabolizing of my life. I can learn from others. I can use the techniques and craft of writing to expand my understanding of my own experience. But. But, in the end, I am the one telling the story. I am the writer in the mirror.