Join me in writing about life’s underside!

Writing is such a part of my day that if I don’t get to it, I’m constantly distracted, as if I have a lover I’m thinking about. It’s like a siren’s call, pulling me away. My husband Michael notices it. He comments on me seeming drifty. He’s right. I’m not fully there. The discipline of writing an hour or more a day pulls me into myself and gives me the contemplative part I need. Balance.

I realize that the kind of stories I produce keeps me in touch with the strangeness, the unfathomable mysteries, of life. Realistic stories I enjoy and sometimes write, but they tend to focus on the everyday, on what we can see in our surface ego view. Most of my stories take another perspective, as if I’m looking at the world from the underside, showing what’s there but not normally perceived.

I want to get more of this into my work (fiction and poetry), and it’s why writing can be so much fun. I never know where these creative moments will take me. It isn’t as if I step out of this world and its many activities. Rather, I step more deeply into the quotidian, including in these pieces images and actions that otherwise might not appear.

And, yes, I can give you an example. In my short story “Flight,” I was writing about an older woman who, after having back surgery, began noticing wings sprouting  from her back, not far from where the incisions had happened. The wings resembled the artificial discs the surgeon had implanted in her spine. “That image obsessed her, so powerful it gripped her imagination, suggesting the operation may have had a mysterious quality, an opening up of another dimension, something she’d often wondered about but had shoved aside, following her psychiatrist husband Sam’s thinking about such things.”

There’s also a psychological component for me. Often, as I’m creating something others can read and enjoy, I’m working something through emotionally or intellectually for myself.

Here’s another example. My “Spirit of the Law” story shows the main character refusing to be locked into a masculine-dominated world of business. She may be doomed to haunt the halls of Johnson et al as a ghost after her death, but this proscription is not a done deal. The character can take charge and get what she wants. To the degree that this particular character refers to some trait in me, this obsessive side to my personality can let loose of the restraints she’s put on herself of living in such a restrained way—of living through others.

The stories, then, can function as some dreams do, opening up windows into our inner worlds. These experiences form the basis of my hybrid memoir, Dreaming Myself into Old Age: one Woman’s Search for Meaning. Constructing this work helped me to explore the many ways the imagination, in its multiple manifestations, enhances our lives through dreams, all of the arts, and the sciences as well. Shanti Arts Press will be releasing it on September 19, 2023, and we’ll celebrate its launch on Saturday, September 23, at noon via Zoom, Passcode 61374. 

Join us!

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