Thursday, December 16, 2004


Sorry to have taken a little break here, a friend of mine has been in town after a 3-year absence, due to the downward spiral of substance abuse. (His, not mine. I've already said in the past I've ditched my chemical demons long ago, though maybe not the psychological ones.) He's now in recovery, so it's definitely a happy homecoming. He brought a huge pile of books for the perusing (he works in a bookstore now) and we've been doing a lot of catching up.

For all that it's a difficult way to go -- the whole substance abuse cycle followed by a complete revamping of one's life, which is irreversibly changed of course, but to my way of thinking, for the better, a way to purge and rebuild -- my big load of advice has been: WRITE A NOVEL.

Hell, it could be an epic. Everything that led up to the substance abuse, the crazy stories, and the road to recovery.

After all, novels are built of adversity. Conflict is a strong creative force. Even if it's just to take a painful incident -- something you know from experience -- and create something with beauty or resolution.

The latest issue of Poets & Wriers had a feature about John Gardner. An interesting quote: "Gardner asserts in On Moral Fiction that every artist works from a psychic 'wound.' Though woundedness, Gardner writes, is part of the human condition -- perhaps a first cousin to original sin -- the artist's sense of woundedness is usually magnified by life events or circumstances." (Article by David M. Stanton.)

Okay, regardless of whether you agree (and honestly, I've never read Gardner), it's an interesting thought. It continues to be the advice I have -- take those negative experences and turn them into a work of art.

Thanks for reading,



Blogger Maktaaq said...

About writing a novel - my sister has these fanatastic stories about her problems travelling by train and bus through Slovakia and Hungary: I keep telling her to write them down.

Or tonight, she told me about incidents at her two current jobs, one as a high school graduation photo photographer and one as a Santa photographer. Kids with fake guns pretending to hold up the school photo people and fifteen police officers arriving to take them down. A flirting Santa that got fired for being too cynical, a blinking Santa, and a Santa who looks evil thus inciting parents to return their photos with complaints.

"I should write all this down," she said.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Hebdomeros said...

Gardner's Grendel is amazing, and a quick read. I have a stack of his other books on my shelf that I'll get to some day. One of my profs from grad school took classes from Gardner in the 70's and he still raves about him. The working out your pain through creativity was a big thing for him (my prof and Gardner), and for me as well when I'm ready to deal with said pain.

So I agree with you. A novel sounds like a great idea for your friend. I wish him luck; life changes are hard enough, but throwing in addiction difficulites on top of it? I have a lot of respect for people able to go through that and come out ok on the other side.

10:21 AM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Maktaaq, EXACTLY! I should write this down. Too bad that lots of people forget, or find other priorities (hmm, that's what NaNoWriMo is all about, of course, making it a priority). I also like to say, fact is definitely stranger than fiction!

Hebdomeros, that's really interesting. And I am finding that I really want to read Grendel, I need to put that on the growing list. And thanks for your kind words. I am definitely pulling for him, but I also know how hard addiction is to shake. He seems like he's in a good place, though, so let's keep fingers crossed, and hope that a novel comes out of this some day...

8:22 PM  
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