Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Writer on the Run, Revisited

Two years ago I wrote a piece for The Illuminata called "A Writer on the Run," about my experiences after Katrina. In that piece I talked about how I didn't have a problem writing nonfiction after the storm but that I couldn't seem to get my heart back into writing fiction. Last night I wrote an addendum to that essay. It's below:


It’s August 2007 as I write this. It’s been almost exactly two years since Katrina. Large parts of Greater New Orleans still lie devastated and Lana and I have actually moved thirty miles north to a small community called Abita Springs, Louisiana. I still work at Xavier, which is struggling to recover, but Lana and I both needed to escape the city. We have a place in the country now, and though I certainly don’t enjoy the commute it’s good to see trees and stars again. It reminds me of where I grew up.

I’ve made a partial return to writing fiction. Some nights my heart comes all the way up to the window on the wings of whippoorwills. Sometimes it hides further back in the woods, and though I know it’s there I can’t quite catch it. But I’m putting food out for it; I’m building it a place to nest. I don’t want it tamed all the way; I just want to pet it once in a while. I want it to come and sit with me again, like it used to, so it can tell stories to my fingers as they move on the keyboard in the dim light of the room where I sit to write.

13 comments:

Steve Malley said...

I'm glad it's coming back for you.

Those long commutes, you ever listen to audiobooks?

Charles Gramlich said...

I've considered it. Mostly now I just listen to music or record poetry into my tape recorder. I've been intending to try a audiobook but just haven't gotten around to doing so.

Lisa said...

Whenever I read a post from you or Shauna that references Katrina, I'm at a loss for words. I'm glad yours are coming back to you.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Nothing I can add, Charles. I don't have a bird at the window. I just have a story that needs to be told, most times I write it all in one sitting. Then months go by.

the walking man said...

Fiction isn't a deer, it knows a carrot pile is a trap. Just let it roll, try letting your fingertips tell the story to your head instead of working backwards.

Peace

TWM

Bernita said...

Lovely post.
I've often wondered about these recurring mental switches and what bite of reality might turn them off or on.

Sidney said...

Nice thoughts, it's interesting how outside influences work. Sometimes negatives force more writing from me and sometimes have the opposite effect.

Michelle's Spell said...

Beautiful post. I'm glad that fiction (which is my favorite genre) is returning, although I find myself doing more nonfiction these days. The country sounds beautiful even if the commute is not!

H.E.Eigler said...

Two years? It doesn't seem like that much time has passed since hearing about the hurricane. It's a shame there wasn't more help in your area. Good luck with picking up the words. I know you'll do fine.

Rachel said...

I was talking to a friend of mine about how, when you're writing, it's not like you're making it up, it's like they're telling you how it was. Sometimes it takes a little coaxing to get it out of them.

etain_lavena said...

Gosh, I am dried the minute I put my foot on London soil, my words dried, I try to write but the information overload here is too over welming, I also wanna pet her, wish she can come back. I saw her standing in Scotland, wish it is time for me to be there with her(my writting fingers):)

Erik Donald France said...

Excellent post, Charles. I love "on the wings of whippoorwills." It triggers memory of lines from the Exorcist Heretic sequel: "I've come this way before -- on the wings of a demon."

Whippoorwills are the better side of that equation. I hope that both your fiction writing and New Orleans soar.

Clifford said...

Beautiful imagery, man. Sounds like you're doing the right thing -- the muse can't be forced, you have to let it return on its own. And it will. Mine is like a cat -- if I turn my back on it, it's there, in my lap. If I go after it, it runs under the couch (: