|Photo Credit: Marcelino Rapayla Jr.|
"Writers are great lovers. They fall in love with other writers. That's how they learn to write. They take on a writer, read everything by him or her, read it over and over again until they understand how the writer moves, pauses, and sees. That's what being a lover is: stepping out of yourself, stepping into someone else's skin." -- Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
I want to fall in love again. No, not in the romantic way. I have no plans of dumping the Mister and setting off to win the heart of this guy:
I want to fall in love with a writer, a writer that I will love so much I will want to step into her skin and become her, as Goldberg muses.
I read all the time. I read blogs, magazines, compelling books on feminism, and the great works of classic American literature. But even though I love these writers, I'm not in love with them. Let me explain.
I love Edgar Allan Poe, but I don't want to write the next The Fall of the House of Usher or The Raven. I love Kate Chopin. I mean, I really, really love Kate Chopin. But I can't say I want to mimic the writing style of The Awakening, Story of an Hour, or Desiree's Baby. This early American literature teacher needs more contemporary creative non-fiction in her life.
I'm in search of a writer I can fall for head over heels.
Perhaps you've already found your Mr. or Ms. Right (or should I say Mr. or Ms. Write), the scribe you read obsessively, the author whose craft you study like you're trying to pass a bar exam. And perhaps you're worried that instead of improving your skill that this love affair with this literary artist is going to turn you into knock-off version of your favorite writer. But here's why I'm now convinced that is not the case.
The moment I realized I was completely and totally in love with the man who is now my husband had nothing to do with anything special he had done. In fact, he wasn't even around. I was alone in my apartment getting ready to apply eye shadow or maybe mascara and when I looked in the mirror I was shocked by a sudden epiphany -- my reflection reminded me of him.
Our beings, our lives had become so intertwined that when I looked in the mirror I thought not only of myself, but of him as well.
But wait, isn't this somehow anti-feminist? Aren't I the girl who's always preaching to her friends the importance of not losing your identity in a romantic relationship? But in no way was I lost. I was still there in that mirror. But so was he.
For too long I've believed that being truly in love with a writer would cause me to lose my voice, that the work I would produce would not be original, but just a cheap imitation of a greater scribe. But who am I kidding? Is anyone truly original?
Every word we write is somehow influenced by everything from history, literature and news to bad pop music and 140-character quote you saw on Twitter. It's all in there.
In a chapter titled "Writing Is a Communal Act" from the book Writing Down the Bones Golderg argues that falling for another writer will only make you better; "it won't make you a copy cat. The parts of another's writing that are natural to you will become you, and you will use some of those moves when you write."
So I'm heading to the library to find the one.
Tell me about the writers you love, study and strive to become.