I’ve been challenged further by my advisor. She agrees that my story is the quiet story of growing up girl in America. She’s persuaded me to begins using past tense and I’ve focused a lot this semester on framing, reflecting, and summary – and where all of these things are best placed in relation to a full scene. We’ve zoomed in on verbs and I took her challenge to write in the past tense without using “was” or any to be verbs at all. The result did wonders for my voice, because suddenly all my verbs were active but because was writing in the past tense, I had permission to reflect and summarize at crucial junctures in the narrative.
Now the challenge is furthered. Because my story is quiet, and often lacks narrative tension (no abusive stepfather, no alcoholism in the family, no suicide attempts, a relatively quiet adolescence, no arguing parents, etc.), my advisor tells me that I have to make up for that with insight, philosophical awareness, humor, and meaning. The good news is that I already have slivers of these things in what I write. The challenge is to make them sparkle, to bring poetry to them but not by force – by natural process and faith in the writing life.
The bad news, I suppose, is that I haven’t been able to get into that kind of headpspace for two to three weeks now. The next deadline is closing in and my brain can’t seem to put a creative sentence together in a roomful of boxes. If all goes well, I’ll be moved in by Saturday. If all goes profoundly well, the gravel truck will make a delivery before then and I’ll be able to make my car get up the driveway. And if all goes unfathomably well, I’ll be settled enough by Sunday to pay serious attention to my heart’s desires, and sit down and pray at the keyboard while those words find their way to the surface of the page.