Archives: Destruction

Classics and Rereading

I have the good fortune to facilitate a monthly book discussion at a local library. The format consists of five titles related to a particular topic. The current topic Destruction and Redemption include the titles:

Emma Bovary by Gustave Flaubert  

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene   

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov   

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles   

Morgan’s Passing by Anne Tyler   

As a literature major, it is not the first time I have encountered these titles. And, I admit that I was not thrilled at the prospect of rereading some of them. I’m glad I did. It has made me a more careful writer and attuned to the idea that stories have seasons as does our life.

What have I learned? Readers and writers approach stories in the same way. What way? We come to the page based on the life parameters we have experienced at the point of writing or reading a book. A book that bored us twenty might be insightful or moving a decade later.

The experience is reminiscent of the following Mark Twain quote:

Sometimes you surprise yourself with what you have learned. The certainty of a first experience becomes tainted or enhanced by experience. It does not remain static. You might have a pleasant surprise if you revisit a book you previously disliked. Sad to say you may reread a title that you loved and find it no longer moves you.  Regardless keep reading.



The Other Bogeyman in the Closet – Self-Rejection

Writing is hard. Go to any social media site and you’ll see posts from writers who declare that they want to write but don’t.  Others wait for divine inspiration and express frustration at their lack of ideas. Still more, state for public consumption that what they write is drek.

If as you sit at your writing place and start from the position of,”I have nothing to say” you have self-rejected.  If as you take your morning walk or drive and your internal editor knocks down ideas that pop at random. You have self-rejected.

All writers live under the delusion that every word they write must be both brilliant and perfect. Many forget that writing is a process, a practice. Self-rejection interrupts both. If every sentence, paragraph or page is rejected you may end up with a few finely honed, technically precise pages but in the process, you will remove the heart, the truth, the vulnerability of a readable story.

First, we must write. Think of first draft words as lumps of coal. Miners know that one found lump of coal indicates that there must be others. So many that perhaps a little digging will bring up enough coal for warmth and power.  They also know that coal can hide diamonds or other veins of ore. Diamonds are accessed by rubbing away the coal to get to the sparkle.

Fill your first draft with words that are misshapen, string them together until you have pages. Allow the pages to see daylight. In the sun look for the hints of sparkle. Allow the pages to age before you read a completed manuscript. Surprise your self. You will find that you have mined more than coal.

Edit and polish until you find the true vein of your work.

© 2024 Lee Heffner – Author