Today’s guest post is by Joe Schwartz, a local writer who spoke recently at Saturday Writers. His bio and links to his work are located at the end of this post. Thanks Joe!
When I first read the Don DeLillo quote, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down,” I felt enlightened. The truth of that statement is magnificent for those so inclined to write. Even more so for those who are searching for the answers to their lives through the art.
Any counselor worth her salt will tell you the first thing they want you to do in the process of healing is to journal. To the non-writer this is a challenging task and almost impossible. I wish I could reach out to all those overwhelmed by the task and tell them they should try and write fiction.
I wrote my first novel four years ago. If you have ever sat down with this goal in mind it can be intimidating, overwhelming, and the most rewarding thing you may ever do if you can cross that finish line known as ‘The End.’ Each time I have been moved to an emotional kind of refreshment in myself. That is to say, I feel with each novel or collection of short stories, that I have once again put myself in harm’s way and lived to tell about it.
Many people don’t realize fictional stories are laced with truth. It is the world as it has revealed itself to one specific individual, and reading a great book is no different than studying a painting or watching a ballet or seeing an amazing movie. There will be only one first time for any of these things. Great art is like a child’s first ride on roller coaster – it will define them for the rest of their lives. The exhilaration, the anxiety, the fear, the thrill of the ride, and the ecstasy of having cheated death will be deeply coded in the sub-conscious of the rider for the rest of their life.
My first time going to the literary amusement park by myself was a marvelous shock. I was still naïve enough to believe stories all had happy endings and that only bad guys died, if anyone at all. How innocent I was when I first read ‘Of Mice and Men,’ I find almost laughable. It was the first book to have a deep emotional effect in my life. It is still the gold standard to me for all my reading. Sometimes I have to wonder if Steinbeck had me in mind when he wrote that extraordinary book, and yet, I know he did not. He was trying to write social commentary through a parable palatable for the masses, but disarming enough not to be recognized by the administration he was trying to reform. Certainly he had no idea that a fourteen-year-old kid in St. Louis was going to read it some fifty years later and have a mental big bang explosion that would begin to shape and form and define his universe of ideals.
I learn something about myself every time I write. Once, I had to stop writing a novel for two years because I could not tell if what the character was describing, if this world he had crawled from of physical and verbal abuse was his alone or if I had opened a locked door in my mind. To be more succinct, it totally freaked me out! I later went on to finish the novel and am quite proud of the work I accomplished. To answer the former, yes, there was some serious vein of truth in my childhood that was revealed to me, but by my exploring it through a fictional character, by allowing him to explore the dark crevices of my mind where I feared to go, I had in fact established my own personal superpower that was unafraid and able to overcome the worst of my memories while I sat most safe and comfortable at my kitchen table being amazed as the words seemed to type themselves onto the face of my computer screen.
If you write, I bid you good luck and good writing. Be honest, i.e. write what you know, and you will create an art made of truth and beauty indefinable by yourself, that can revealed exclusively to you by your audience. If you read, then I beg you to see in between the lines, to discover the real person hiding behind this mask called fiction.Joe Schwartz is a writer living in St. Louis writing exclusively about the Gateway City. He has two published books to his credit 'Joe's Black T-Shirt' and 'The Games Men Play.' There is no bigger challenge or delight to any author than being read. That being said, read Joe for free using the coupon codes