interview with model Karen Elson on her recent music album release yielded a surprising breakthrough for my current writing slump. It read:
The early songs I wrote were very self-indulgent,” [Elson] says. “Real woe-is-me. But living in Nashville, the songwriters I like here, they all manage to find a narrative; they use metaphors and stories to explain what they're feeling.” She rolls her eyes. “I don't need to show everybody my diary.
Yes, yes, I thought, this is my problem. My writing is a circle about this big (two curved fingers) because I write directly about myself and my feelings. I have mastered that. Now I need to make my circle this big (two curved hands) by using what I feel to write about everybody else. And knowing how to do so (metaphor, analogy) technically is not as important as knowing how to make the connection in the first place. I'm missing that first link. I'm missing a narrative.
How to make this jump is the troubling aspect that I've been wrestling with over the past several months. I'm not sure how to break through the barrier-- in my darker moments, I feel that this should be an inherent ability, and that I should just give up writing entirely.
But I have innate stubbornness, if not innate genius, and I am persistently pursuing ways to cheat my way over the wall, so I don't have to break through it. Hence, the summer writing program (which unfortunately didn't work out) and the rekindled interest in "classical" poetry (see yesterday's post). Add a few literary journals in, and maybe the occasional self-help article, and hopefully this becomes the brew to spell me back into meaningful conceptions. Until then, it's just plugging along-- and finding the occasional fashion magazine with the helpful writing tip.
What do you do to make your work relevant in a larger sense? Do you focus on this consciously? Is it the words, or the themes that drive your pieces?