Random Exercise #38
We all have topics we do not want to write about. For whatever reason, these are the subjects we avoid. Maybe they scare us, annoy us, or make us feel guilty. For this exercise I invite you to make a list of these topics. You need not write about them, just make a list of what they are. But keep the list and maybe one day when you are feeling brave and strong and invincible and adventuresome, you can look at that list, choose a topic, and meet it on the page.
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There aren't many things I won't tackle in fiction, but for a long time, the top of the list read "rape." And then, not very long ago, I found myself obligated to write about rape. It was NOT pleasant. I couldn't get inside the head of the rapist--I simply could not wrap my head around the mindset necessary to do that. Actually, I said "not very long ago," but this story idea has been nagging at me for something like a decade, because that's how long I avoided writing the story. It was just that, ling very long ago, I couldn't avoid it any longer. But when I confronted the subject and made myself write about, it turned into one of the best stories I think I've ever written. Maybe THE best story. Writing outside our comfort zone is powerful, powerful stuff. So I'm glad you mentioned this idea--and gave us permission to sit on these subjects as long as it takes before we're ready to write about them.
I think it is important to be aware of not only what attracts us, but what repels us. It is as you say, powerful stuff. And, yes, stories have gestation periods. I think it is important to let a story develop in the mind and imagination for as long as it needs before we try to develop it on the page. Writing is a process - not a race!
Thanks for sharing, Sam! And congrats on writing a story you are proud of!
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