Writers’ Trigger: The narrator of the novel Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi is Trudy, a dwarf. More clearly than any other book I’ve read, this novel answers the question, “How could the people of Germany let Hitler rise and remain in power?” Towards the end of the novel, Trudy goes to the Rhine for consolation, and she sees how the pattern of the water changes as it makes its way past a rock. “What the river was showing her now was that she could flow beyond the brokenness, redeem herself, and fuse once more… She could let it stop her, block her- or she could acknowledge the rock and have respect for it, alter her course to move around it.”
KEEPING A JOURNAL OF YOUR JOURNEY IS ONE WAY OF READING THE RIVER.
- Reflect on the stones on your path. What were they and how did they transform you?
- If you are writing fiction, invent ten “stones.” Choose one stone and brainstorm possible outcomes. If time allows, write a short scene the includes the stone and the outcome.
I haven’t written since May. Never mind. I’m back in the saddle again.
As the title of this blog suggests, I’m starting fresh – it’s the end of TimeOut, a Wet Mountain Tribune column that I have written for nearly nine years. It’s the beginning of something new. Time has run out. The column and I are both tired. Although I’ve enjoyed the game aspect of writing to a set number of inches (which translates to approximately 510 words) I typically have to cut several hundred words from my rough draft. Cutting is good discipline; however, trying to balance factual content with personal reflection and humor is tough. Too often I am cutting and/or softening factual content and opinion to allow for bridge building.
Sometimes this highwire balancing act leaves me feeling a bit schizophrenic. I read once that small town papers should balance the head and the heart. The editor is the head; the columnist is the heart. With that “rule” in mind, I have tried to write Chatty Cathy columns that bridge the divisions. My task, as I saw it, was to laugh at my own failings and the fallibility of man. Rather than editorializing, I tried to acknowledge both sides of an issue and indirectly suggest that one side might be the better choice. More often than not, the reader was required to connect the dots.
This tiptoeing has left me exhausted. Living abroad and travel have broadened my view. I’m an American, but increasingly, I am a citizen of the World and my view no longer reflects the conservative mindset. The time has come to write for myself without consideration for my audience.
This past weekend I went to New Mexico and while there I visited Quarai, one of three 17th century Salinas Pueblo Missions. Much to my disgust, I forgot my camera. And so, this photo comes to you courtesy of The National Park Service.
It is a sad sad photo shot by a blind bureaucrat. The only hint to the scale of the church is the door. Imagine a very big door and extrapolate. The church is just a shell, but a shell without a roof. Standing inside the church, I looked up, saw the brilliant blue sky, and speculated that the world would be more harmonious if all places of worship were without roofs.
Roofs and walls contain/constrain. They close us in. Insular points of view are killing us. The open sky is endless, universal and open to speculation. We need to look up and out.
You don’t believe me? Think about the brouhaha over building an Islamic community center some blocks from Ground Zero. No one is looking up.