When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes! -- Lyrics, 'Do You Hear the People Sing', Les Miserable
My last post was a lament, a tribute to fear. Fear of writing. Fear of other people's writing. Of being afraid because other authors' prose, their voices, were so damn good that it scared me. I shared thoughts on being boxed in by that self-imposed writing barricade of inadequacy.
I was not talking about talent but something much bigger than talent. I was talking about passion, about being afraid to write what's in my heart and about shutting off this faucet that keeps my passion from flowing free. How frustrating it was to see others write these powerful stories. How it finally hit me what that magic element was in their writing was---fire, fearlessness, this beautiful kind of anger that even their greatest inhibitions can't smother.
I wanted that secret ingredient in my writing.
Well, to that post, I enjoyed so many supportive comments, so much wonderful advice. And, among those who offered words of understanding and support was a long-time, dear, dear friend. A gal who was pretty much my very first mentor and critique partner.
A beautiful author, Joylene Nowell Butler.
She told me something that hit home. She said to learn from others. And then she said something that rang bells in my head---oh, it clanged like the huge bells of Notre Dame---read the classics.
And so I did. Read the classics.
Oh, I didn't scour through volumes and volumes of classic novels, although I would gladly have done it, I love them so. I did, however, grab up films---adaptations of classics as well as biographic movies of authors from times past.
And...holy shitsky. My friend, my dear friend Joylene! How could she have known?
First of all and coincidentally---I'd just bought it---I watched the newest musical film adaptation of Les Miserable. Yes, the one with Hugh Jackman and my idol Russell Crowe. It had been a long time since I cried so wonderfully, so broken up and emotional. And so inspired.
Immediately after, I read about the author of Les Miserable, Victor Hugo. Ahead of his time. Daring. Blaring with a voice so bold and free that it's still shouting even today.
But, during all this research, things much deeper than just beautiful prose spoke to me.
First, it lit this fire inside me to let my own voice break free, to stop fretting about how it's going to be received. That very fear of reception was its own road block to my creativity. The story, the songs, the facts acted as mufflers to silence those internal whispers such as so-and-so says there is no such thing as love at first sight, this or that reviewer says they don't like love at first sight.
I loved Hugo's thoughts on this issue, The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only."
I wondered, after reading this, if he'd seen victims of the Goodreads of his day? Had he seen authors being intimidated by reviews from using their own voices, from just letting love be whatever their souls told them it should be?
As though some invisible force knocked my mental barricade down, I felt this wonderful freedom. I could not get some of the song's lyrics out of my mind, I played them over and over...Beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see? Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free!
I'd never been so inspired. I'm still zinging.
I can't explain the fury---a wonderful, wild freedom---that broke out in my heart when I watched this film, this production of the classic story. But I do know that the exhilaration was like another of Hugo's quotes, More powerful than the mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.
That gives me chills.
There is a world I long to write beyond the barricade. And, by watching a film adaptation of a classic story and by reflecting on the other classics that have weathered time, I recognized all the things I crave to write---love at first sight, characters who were bad and ones who were good but who were painfully human, seedy life, the very grit of life, loneliness, despair, spirit, fires in the bellies, justice, injustice, anger, fear, poverty, wealth, beauty, ugliness, faith, sunshine, rain---every human condition imaginable. Without holding back, not giving the voices in my head any slack.
Hugo also had a quote for authors lifting others up, The delight we inspire in others has this enchanting peculiarity that, far from being diminished like every other reflection, it returns to us more radiant than ever.
Radiant. Yes. So thank you, all of you who understood. And thank you, Joylene Nowell Butler, for that one word. Classics.
I don't know the outcome of what I write. But it will be mine, it will be free of worry, it will be what is in my heart.
I think my time has come to really...write.