"Go to the emotional epicenter, where it hurts most, and write on. If you dare."
~ Bill Donovan, editor/publisher, Creative Screenwriting
~ E.M. Forster
The call to write is a call to share our emotional depth with others. It's a call to be vulnerable. It's a call to connect.
Thing is, we don’t touch others at a deep level when we connect mind-to-mind, though that connection is a powerful and important one. We touch others at a deep level when we connect heart-to-heart.
Unless we write from our deepest heart, unless we tell the stories that move us, we will never move our readers.
I spent the first chunk of my writing career avoiding writing from what Bill Donovan calls the "emotional eipcenter." I observed and reported, intellectually and dispassionately. I told stories, but without heart.
In not revealing my feelings (at times, not even to myself), I failed to engage my readers in any but superficial ways. I failed them and I failed myself.
I didn't connect.
Do you want to write truth, the truth from which both powerful ﬁction and nonﬁction arise? If you want to write truth, if you want to write words that will touch the deepest emotions and connections and truths of your reader, then you must write what your heart calls on you to write. You must go where you've never dared go before -- in your writing, certainly; in your life, perhaps.
You must, as I write in The Voice of the Muse's "Thirteen Rules for Writing," go for the jugular, for your jugular: "Go for the demon you would run from. Go for the feeling you would ﬂee from. Go for that emotion you would deny. Once you put it on paper, you strip it of its power over you. Once you put it on paper, you free it to empower your work."
You free it, as well, to empower your readers. You empower them to feel their emotions, to be vulnerable and to share their stories.
"We tell our stories in order to live," Joan Didion writes in The White Album
We tell our stories, too, to connect.
There is neither life nor connection outside the heart.
• Where are you refusing to be vulnerable in your writing?
• Where are you afraid to reveal your feelings, perhaps even to yourself?
• In what ways are you reluctant to connect, heart-to-heart, with your readers?
• Where, right now, can you go for the jugular -- your jugular -- and dare to write from your emotional epicenter?
Part of answering the call to write and birthing the book that's inside you involves tapping into that emotional epicenter. I'll be encouraging you to do that in both my upcoming workshops in Albuquerque. See this blog post for more details. (My calendar of upcoming book-signings, classes, workshops and other events is always posted on my page at booktour.com.
Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, winner of a 2009 IPPY Silver Medal as one of the top writings books of the year
Photo by Mark David Gerson: Cholla cactus flower, Sandia foothills, Albuquerque, NM