Chapter 2 of Francine Prose‘s book Reading Like a Writer is titled “Words.” Until she reminded me of this in the chapter’s last paragraph, I had forgotten the chapter had a title. I was completely absorbed in the story examples she offered.
At least when I say I skim something and miss it, I have an excuse, but I was paying attention. It took me all week to finish this chapter of twenty-one pages. I probably missed other words, but I loved her teachings.
Why? Because Francine takes me deeper. Something I am not sure I can do in the same way without her help. I plan to try. I have already blamed Francine that I subscribed to the New Yorker again. I have never enjoyed their short stories, but the one she used as her last example is from the New Yorker, and I liked it. Now I want to read the whole thing on my own.
All the while, real life goes on around me. A couple of things transpired I found emotional of one sort or another. Most of the time I strive to be monkish. I think that admirable. The trouble is it doesn’t make for much of a story. Stories need emotions. Today each time I was hit with something emotional I tried to identify the why of it and to claim it through fiction.
My current fiction class demands one story a week. I like it because I am writing, but I can’t be a monk when writing a story. If I am, the story goes slack. Besides, I probably have a wrong take on monks.
Each of the stories Francine references are amazingly in touch with emotion. I guess monks are too, but they must absorb the emotion some other way than writing about it. Before I figure out their outlet, I want to claim writing a story as my way.
It has made me reconsider any wayward wish for a monastical life. I will go to go to New York City instead. Well almost. In truth I am searching for a middle ground.
How to write from my chair with the tenacity of a New Yorker. I want to be emotional but live in rural land, and write. Surely what I have already experienced of my fellow humans should provide enough material. Is this what is meant by finding my feminine side? The feminine side of words?