“Art is what you find when the ruins are cleared away” Interesting quote. I wish I knew who to attribute it to, but I first heard it while viewing an interview the children’s author, Gary Paulsen. There’s a guy who had ruins to pick through if anyone did. He said that a writer has to be willing to “go there”. I guess he means the dark places that lurk, mostly unseen, in everyone. I think that is my problem right now. I know what it is I want to write about but I am having trouble “going there”, and I am looking for anything that will distract me from the task. Trouble is a story is like a child. It never lets you alone. And unlike a child, you can’t turn on SpongeBob to get a little peace from it. And even though I have plenty of rubble to pick through, I am not sure that I would call myself an artist. A technician maybe. Writing is skill as much as it is a gift. I remember the first story I ever wrote. It was about pirates. I got the idea from one of those storystarter cards the sisters would give us to keep us occupied during language arts classes. A clever way to teach the mechanics that they surely came to regret as they plowed through dozens of awful flights of nine year old fancy. I was so proud of that story. I had been making up stories in my head from the time I could remember but had never thought to write one down. Sister didn’t think much of it. It was returned without a star and bleeding with red ink. I was an awful speller (never made it past the K list) and had comma addiction. Fortunately, I thought Sister was an idiot. I kept on writing stories. Notebooks and binders full. I still can’t spell but that hasn’t been an issue since the advent of the PC. I still like commas. I stopped writing about ten years ago though. I can’t really say why. Well, okay, maybe I can. I wanted to quit teaching and go back to graduate school at Iowa. Get into the Writer’s Workshop. Got rejected. A real writer wouldn’t have let that stop her, but I didn’t consider myself a real writer. Which is funny because I am nothing but a writer, always have been. I stopped listening to that nine year old inside me and that was a mistake because she had a much clearer grasp on who we were. So, here I am. Back in the ruins, shovel in hand and hesitating. Real writing is work. It is not all manna from heaven, although that does happen sometimes. Mostly though it is sitting and searching for the words that will connect thought with reader. Recently I caught a rerun of a Charlie Rose interview with George Lucas, and Lucas was talking about writing. Something I am sure that some people would argue he shouldn’t do to much of. But, he talked about the difference between his style and that of Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola, he said, just believed that you should write as quickly as possible and get it all down and done. Come back to it and write it again. And again. And eventually you have a finished work. If you didn’t. If you spend too much time worrying about every choice of word or phrase or placement of puncuation, you would never finish. Lucas made a good point, even if he never really did explain how he wrote a story. Summed up my current dilemma nicely. I am worrying too much. I need to just write. The faster. The better. My nine year old self was correct when she came to the egocentric conclusion that critics were stupid. Let he who has picked stones from the ruins be the first to cast them at me.