Post 6: The Heart of the Writer

Well, I submitted my third article to the blog called Scary Mommy.  I didn’t look at it for a few days after submitting it, but I read it again yesterday.  I’m not happy with it.  Something was missing.

A few people have alluded to the fact that I haven’t offered anything as a “takeaway” to the reader.  I agree with them.  Years of journaling have conditioned me to write for myself.  I’m used to being my only reader.  Since my focus has shifted from myself to an audience, my writing has become flat.  My pieces are “technically” written well, but I don’t see them connecting with an audience.  I’m having the same problem with my novel.  I’ve written a few chapters, but something about them bothers me.  I have a great story idea, but who cares?  A great idea without great execution is nothing.

So I started reading a book by Dwight Swain called “Techniques of the Selling Writer.”  Based on the first two chapters in this book, my chapters lack feeling.  This is the heart of my problem (no pun intended.).  Things I wrote a few years earlier were rough, but had heart and were more interesting.  I’ve been so focused on learning story structure and technique over the past year that I’ve neglected the emotional place that first inspired my stories – a daughter watching her mother suffering in a hospital room.

What were my feelings when I watched my mother on the ventilator?  Devastation.  Rage.  Helplessness. I felt like an angry child wanting to lash out at the world for the unfairness of my mother’s situation.  I hated that our roles had reversed – the daughter had to take care of the mother.  I hated that I was fighting against nature.  I hated knowing deep down that no matter how hard we tried, there was nothing we could do.  I hated finally having to accept defeat.  I hated having to make the decision to let her go.  This is the emotional place where my story began years ago.  And this is where I need to return.

I’m writing this book because more than four years have passed since my mother died and my heart is still broken.  I miss her and I have to believe that our souls are somehow still connected.  I want my story to be about a mother and a daughter whose souls are connected through more than one lifetime.  I hope that someday, I can write a story worthy of being a tribute to her memory.

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