The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, June 22, 2020

Twists and Turns in Writing (and Life)

I’m twisted. I guess it would be more apt to say I love twisted writing.

I adore books and stories where the reader has to turn corners, clueless about what’s on the other side. Chuck Palahniuk’s writing is twisted in the best sense of the word. Joe Hill (he’s Stephen King’s son) keeps me on the edge of my seat. Sandra Dallas’s novels almost always have a major twist at the end.

These days are twisted… in the worst sense of the word.

To make sense of the world, what does a writer do? They write.

Recently I helped rescue a hawk. It was only a month old, and when a tree was cut down, the nest fell, and the baby bird was pacing in yards, desperate for food and water. My friend and I ended up taking it to the local wild bird sanctuary.

Slogging through an essay’s draft that’s simmering right now, a draft that begins with that baby hawk, I’m reminded of one of my favorite essays. It’s "Time and Distance Overcome" by Eula Bliss, and it's brilliant. It begins with a lot of information on telephone poles… and then it turns a major corner. A major corner.

Every summer I co-teach a graduate class. It’s full of teacher-writers. Usually it’s face to face but this year, it’s being conducted via Zoom meetings. Every summer I’m bowled over by the writing. This June is no different.

One of the teachers shared a short story she’d written. It was a moving tale of a mother who’s dealing with a miscarriage, a busy toddler daughter and a husband who doesn’t completely understand the grief she’s dealing with… and then I was punched in the stomach by the realization that what I thought was happening was not what was really happening. It was a whallop in the same vein as the one I got watching The Sixth Sense.

If you’d like to read an incredible essay—another one of my favorites—head to a post I've written for The Muffin. I’ve included a link to Brian Doyle’s powerful essay, “Joyas Voladoras.” It turns corners in a smooth and polished way.

And as far as my personal life, I turned a corner on Friday. I chose to not sign a contract at my old school, so I was (desperately) looking for a job for the last month or so. On Friday, I got a job offer (and accepted it). I’m thrilled. It's with a principal I love... which makes all the difference.

How about you? Do you incorporate twists and turns in your writing? How are you making sense of what is going on in our country?