Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Week 6: a week of readings

Good Morning from Wallingford, PA

I now have 121 pages of Alice in Wonder. 

On Monday night, two friends listened and then Saturday morning four listened, including three who hadn't heard any of it before. The first group heard Alice's Helen sequence and reflections on This River of Women Theatre Company.  The second group heard Alice's reflections on the theatre company, and her performance of Breakin' Block-on and Rip Van Winkle's stories.  They then witnessed Alice's need to change her performance venue.  They also heard this poem:

About Alice in Wonder, a Novel-in-Progress

A page lingerer, not a page turner
such is the plan, and the outline is done—
green ivy growing diagonally
up the cement block wall—adjusted
for a higher climax to come before
the vine finishes all of its leafing

I can see its tendrils uncurling in
my mind’s eye, slow motion I say, so I
can follow through on every detail, catch
questions—anticipate them before you,
first reader, climb too high hand over hand,
gripping each page for its dear life.

Visit my vibrant Alice’s domain
allow Alice to show home, mind and heart
meet Miracle Kitty and the full cast
of characters she keeps on shelves, in frames
and buried deep in closeted boxes.
Know this old one has always had wonder.

And they loved it!  I am "a good writer," at least from what they heard.  We took turns reading, so I got to hear parts of it as audience.  I think it "reads" better aloud than on the page--that it's still a performance.  But the event left me grinning.  I am happy with the listeners' responses and with the questions they asked about what more they wanted to know that might expand their knowledge of the main character.  I am already in the middle of making the visual life-line for Alice suggested by the Arts and Spirituality Director Jesse.  By doing this drawing, I'll see where more highs and lows are needed.  It will take a lot more work to make it a page-lingerer rather than a page-turner, but I am going to lay that aside for now.  First I will write on until the end which is at least another 120 pages away.

At lunch one of my listeners commented on my openness about this project I am still in the middle of, and I wonder about that too. Why am I not hoarding my words and being secretive until finished? Perhaps it's this openness that has set my slow, slow pace of work? 

I hoard my progress in the sense that I shred the pages I discard instead of putting them whole in the trash, and I don't generally give people chapters to read on their own.  I have to have a whole lot of trust.  

I am sitting with this question.  Is it part of the "look at me" syndrome I had when I was little?  I am a bit too backstage for that, I think, still preferring facilitating other performers rather than performing myself.  I'm still much more introverted and hermit-like than extroverted.  And it's not that I don't care what people think. I may care too much and ask for too much input. So that is a real part of the "willingness" to share.  It's a need as well as confidence.

Another part, I think--I hope and pray--is that I am and have been centering my work with prayer and finding the words is a testimony of a kind.  I mean, I'm feeling led to write what I am writing and to tell the stories I am telling in this autobiographical and historical novel told through flashback and forward motion.  Like the words I found while teaching and directing, these seem to come from within and beyond me.  It's feeling more like a process of getting out of the way of breath than a process of seeking inspiration.  So I am not writing alone and it's not just for me.  

And it's hard, because I have obstacles blocking looking at my life critically and humorously.  I have hesitations about including things I must that involve other living people.  I spend time consolidating and disguising individuals and making the character Alice very different from me--for example, she is not a teacher and she is independent financially.  But I cannot fudge and blend events in history like the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice and the Women's Center and This River of Women Theatre Company performances.  Well, maybe I could make these more fictional or even science-fictional, but I don't want to.   I want readers to know the value of radical feminism, and feel compelled to elucidate the value and truth of those days.  A few of many truths.  One perspective that may compel others to write their truths.  

I am hungry.  I mean, really, it's time for breakfast, though I'm hungry in other ways as well.  And Pendle Hill is a big well I am drinking at and from and also, after this week, with.

I'll write more as way opens.


Sherry Blue Sky said...

I so enjoyed reading this, Susan. You are using your time well. I think you must write about the women's empowerment group as it was, as you say to validate the truth of those days. I am glad your readings of Alice were received so well. Yay!how much longer are you there?

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Let me start off by saying that this is one beautiful poem! I am so happy that you're pursing your talent :D and yes you're an incredible writer/poet.

Lots of love,