Writing Close to the Bone

Writing Close to the Bone

I know, I know. I’ve already lectured you about emotional truth, being naked on the page, and going for broke. You might understandably be saying, “Yeah, yeah. Got it.”

But like all hard and important things, ‘getting it’ is an iterative process. You read about it once and think, “Yes, I must keep that in mind.” You read it a second time: “Right, I meant to do that.” And a third: “How come I can’t remember?”

It’s hard to recall it because it’s hard to do and outside almost everyone’ comfort zone. It takes a concerted effort. Which sometimes works and the result is a joy. And sometimes doesn’t.

So, because I think this issue is so critical to truly bringing yourself to the page, I’m going to give it another kick at the cat. But this time from when I have yearned to be able to do it.

Yearning to be close to the bone

In my journal or other times when I ‘should’ be writing, I have often whined about how hard it is to reach that spot all writers covet.

I keep watching Inside The Actors’ Studio to get another jolt like Meryl Streep’s one true thing. That she can play any character if she can find in her the one thing that is true for her and true for the character. That I can create any character if I can find that one thing that is true for her and true for me.

But it’s been dry pickings lately.

Although Dustin Hoffman. He cried. He cried almost as soon as he sat down. About his father, I think. But no matter. How close to the surface the passion. How easily it slipped out. How much I envy that—the pick ax and drill nature of my passion. So carefully concealed, so appropriately expressed. White gloves for shopping still on.  


I let myself wander away from that which would be fearless. Like the nakedness would be as unattractive as my body without clothes. Like it would confirm what we all suspected—she has an overweight soul. That passion is a garment held together by safety pins of technique. That the clever turn of phrase can be the sleight of hand, to dazzle, to distract, to confuse and ultimately, to change the subject.

Writing as a chronic condition

I know that every writer despairs sometimes of sinking deep down into who they are. I guess there might be some who don’t but I’m not sure that I’d want to hang out with them. It is unfortunately, the natural state of writers.  To doubt, to fail in courage, to have moments when they know that the world would continue to spin happily on its axis if they never wrote again.

But writing is a chronic condition. It will not be denied. You write because you must.

And it will work

As my final word on this from my journal.

Not quite drivel, not quite story. But from that place that has been absent for a while, missed and yet proceeding forward, like the impolite guest for whom you no longer hold dinner. Even though he provides the light and the laughter and the meaning.