Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists. There is, there has been, there will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their jobs with love and imagination…Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem that they solve.
Memoir must be written because each of us must possess a created version of the past. Created: that is, real in the sense of tangible, made of the stuff of a life lived in place and in history. And the downside of any created thing as well: We must live with a version that attaches us to our limitations, to the inevitable subjectivity of our points of view. We must acquiesce to our experience and our gift to transform experience into meaning. You tell me your story, I’ll tell you mine.
A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. Of course, there are dishonest writers who go on for a little while, but not for long—not for long.
I’ve pursued dreams and achieved them, but I don’t think anybody should think their life is incomplete if they don’t follow some dream. Happiness doesn’t come from achievements, or money, or any sort of treasure. Happiness is a frame of mind, not a destination. It’s appreciating what you’ve got and building relationships with those around you.
THE WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR - MELISSA CHADBURN
I tagged Melissa Chadburn to participate in the Blog Tour and I’m hosting her answers here. I first met Melissa at the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop where, to be honest, she intimidated the hell out of me. She’s a woman on fire, deeply passionate about social justice, animal rescue, and writing that matters. She also has a heart of gold. Whenever I find myself lying flat on my face, she magically appears to help me up. I adore her and admire her strategy and stamina in the literary game. Here she is in her own words…
1. What are you working on?
At this very moment I am in a Holiday Inn express in Phoenix, Arizona drinking really bad instant coffee. I’m writing a piece about airport workers across the country. The invisible people that work under the wings.
So really there’s the story and then there’s the story underneath the story. For airport workers the story is about poverty. It’s also about pride and hard work. It’s a story about miscarriages and pushing heavy carts and no seat belts on tarmacs and getting treated like a tipped worker. So sometimes it’s a story of making less than minimum wage— at some places 2.00 an hour. The story of urine drenched wheelchairs and weeds growing through rusted truck cabs and living in motel rooms and hanging out in convenience stores and super Walmarts and city busses and 120 degree weather and about refugee families kneeling at the graves of their unborn babies.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Shit I don’t know. I mean in lots of ways, like me, my work aspires. Aspires to achieve some justice off the page. Aspires to accomplish some form of social arsonism, and light hearts and minds on fire.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I am so absolutely interested in finding the truth and then sharing that truth. Of course at times I am guilty of succumbing to the toxic effect of an idea. And then making that idea The World. And when that happens I feel so inclined to act.
Writing is one of my favorite tools in my arsenal. For example this idea that came to me just now: To me, poverty is essentially a failure of the imagination. Failure to devise a solution and for some, (The Haves), a self-deprecation in that it is a failure to realize the repercussions will soon affect you too.
4. How does your writing process work?
There’s a lot of running and reading involved. More than you’d think. I’ve never been more fit than when I grappled with a piece of prose.
Melissa has tagged Antonia Crane, so visit Antonia’s blog on 8/14/14 for insight into her writing process.
Antonia Crane is a writer, adjunct professor and performer in Los Angeles. She teaches Media Writing to students who know more about Tumblr than she does. Her memoir about her mother’s illness and the sex industry “SPENT” is available from Barnacle Books. She’s a columnist for The Rumpus, a contributing editor for The Weeklings, senior editor and founder of The Citron Review, and was a film consultant on Jill Soloway’s Afternoon Delight. As a winner of The Moth, True Stories Told Live, she’ll be competing in the Los Angeles Grand Championship 2014. Her writing can be found in The Heroin Chronicles, Soft Skull Press’ Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing about Each Other, The New Black, The Rumpus, Dame Magazine, Salon, PANK magazine, Black Clock, The Believer, Frequencies, Slake, The Los Angeles Review and lots other places.