Love, What’s With That?

The hardest thing I find to write about is writing. So many authors say, “writing is a labor of love,” but rather than love, a desperate need to speak always swells for me. That need fuels my initiative, but even during the laborious process of writing, I experience everything but love. Frustration, responsibility, comic relief, fear, mischievousness and even anger come to mind. Maybe the ‘labor of love’ thing is symbolic and zooms over my head at warp speed without touching down. Love sounds so sweet, tender and warm, which is hardly what I feel when I write. My passion and enthusiasm has to come from somewhere though, maybe that’s what I pull from the love word. ‘I see, hear, feel, therefore, I write’ seems to be my mantra, if I truly have one. It sounds juvenile, uneducated and less sophisticated, but it seems to work. I must admit, there are times when I wish for a formula. A handy, concrete algorithm would give me more direction; a precise way to get where I’m going, definitely the better focus everyone talks about. But wouldn’t stringent focus be stifling? Isn’t that when you start pumping out material that becomes more or less the same story with a different title, very Stephen King or Danielle Steele like? I’m scattered, and I know this. I write in pieces, large and small, irregular or with straight edges. Where or when an idea will move me to paper is anyone’s guess, especially mine. To compensate, I make sure a spiral tablet is within reach; on the counter, bedside stand, in my purse or book bag, the bathroom, even the car, although I try not to be that crazy person on the road who is doing everything but paying attention to driving. The mini-recorder comes in handy then, unless the batteries are dead. Sometimes in desperation I must become the crazy person, because I know my free-flowing thought will not arrive at my destination in the same condition if I can’t manage to get it to the tablet, napkin or the back of my car registration. More than likely, it would be lost forever. I have found over the years that the most fertile grounds for generating my best written work is in the car or the shower. My desk’s perimeter is lined with piles of steno pad spirals filled with half or whole thoughts (some, unfortunately, contain water warped pages with smeared ink). When the prospecting mood strikes, I sift through the combinations of words; uncover my gems and the ‘needs to be worked,’ laugh at the ridiculous, ripping them out to be crumpled and tossed into the ‘what in the world’ area. Then, the arduous, humungous jigsaw puzzle begins. When I think long and hard about it, I see that I truly just throw the whole process into a pot and boil it down. Subconsciously or possibly while in denial, I peel away the thin shell and bitter layers to surface the sweetest part of the onion. After cooling, I roll it through my mind and smush it in my fingers. Done. I realize this has to be the more difficult approach to writing, which truly lacks any systematic series of actions but still, what’s love got to do with it?

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Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of “Save Them All”

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Filed under Articles, Blogroll, Essays, The Writing Life, Writing

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