Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Way of Writing Is Not A Subtle Argument

Lost, Chicago 2013
I am sharing a student writing again this week.
I love this piece because it so clearly shows the writer's process.

The prompt for this last week was to use one of many possible (and provided) quotes from Rumi. This is the one this student, Heather, chose. She chose another one and felt similar resistance, so she went on ahead with this one: "The way of love is not a subtle argument." At first it seems to be "working" - she's writing about the quote. Then she feels her block, and proceeds to describe the guards who are protecting whatever is behind her block.

Then, the not-subtle argument becomes her process - it's not (just) about love anymore, but about the very writing she is doing. Finally, she returns to the place where she is - neighbors and sounds, and creates/discovers a little universe that is conspiring against inspiring her.

We all found the piece to be super provocative and real. Heather was shocked by our response, having felt her resistance the entire time. This is not uncommon - rejecting a piece based on the resistance we feel. What is exceptional is staying with it this closely, as she did, and finding such humor, intimacy and vivid imagery waiting right alongside the frustrating feeling of resistance.
The way of love is not a subtle argument.  It is a rip-roaring argument where everyone loses? There is no compromise in love, or is there? There is both I suppose.  Compromise is going backing on a promise to yourself.  When does that become a good thing.  It never does.  Watch out for extremes but also for compromises.  I made a promise to myself and then, what happened then?  
I feel blocked.  I feel like I am purposely blocking myself.  Tall men in fancy dress with canes are forming a line, a barrier.  They look distinguished and respectable. They also look identical.  Clones of something I created maybe.  I feel like Russell Brand...I don't know much about him but I feel like his brand of misery.  Ha!  What is this.  I am honestly scrambling for something to write.  
The way of love is not a subtle argument.  Nope, nothing.  Not even an image of a cliff or a dark hole.  Just the texture of rubber maybe and wanting to laugh because my mind makes an annoying squeaking sound as I try to write something. 
Back feels twisted.  Hands look dry and wrinkled.  The fridge continues to gurgle its un-fridge like noises.  I think they are playing video games in the apartment above me.  I hear fantasy shooting and fantasy explosions.  There is a strange echo and it repeats.  
Still nothing.  Close to knocking my head against the wall but I won't.  My pen literally just ran out, which I took as a sign.  I ignored that sign and got another pen, which is from the Ramada Plaza.  This monotony could go on for pages.  I have a feeling that I have an unholy amount of boring things I could write today.  
All the compartments are closed and no one wants to do business.  No one wants to open their doors.  Everyone's at home watching game shows and even the older Greek couple down the hall that makes fish on Fridays have cut off their scents.  They don't want me to be inspired by their cooking smells so they have opened their window and are fanning the smells out the window.  I think the even put a towel at the bottom of their door.  It doesn't matter because it is just a matter of time until they become scared.

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