Tuesday, January 15, 2013

WHERE OUR BEST STORIES COME FROM

According to Amy Tan, in her book THE OPPOSITE OF FATE, our best stories come from "our worst life experiences."

I don't know about you, but I don't spend a lot of time thinking about my worst life experiences. Whatever happened, happened. It's done. Over. I choose to live now, press onward.

And yet... this idea makes me want to pull out the old china, rub it with a dish towel and make a place-setting complete with silver and cloth napkin and sprig of wildflowers poking out of the chipped glass vase my mother gave me.

What are my worst life experiences? Am I brave enough to sit with them, to hold them in my mouth? Is this what every writer talks about when they talk about fear, about writing what scares you?

Writers, if you haven't read this book, please do. My father gave it to me for Christmas, and I have really savored it. Lots of wisdom, lots to ponder.

13 comments:

  1. I hate this idea, and yet I'm drawn to the bleak and hopeful like nobody's business. Sounds like there's wisdom here, as you say. xo

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    1. Bleak and hopeful... yes! Thanks for stopping by. xo

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  2. What a lovely gift, and I will look for this book. I have to say this idea resonates with me, as someone who felt myself to be a girl without a voice, which I'm pretty sure is what made me want to be a writer way back. And finds treasure in some stories that those who lived them weren't always anxious to speak. I know you're brave. I can see you now pulling out the old china.

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    1. Jeannine, you will love this book. Her works are really about the very complicated relationship she shared with her mother. I dog-eared lots of pages. Love to you, girl with a very important voice!

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  3. I'm exploring this whole idea of writing what scares you. We'll see where it goes. Courage breeds courage, you know!

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    1. Yes, Doraine! Let's be courageous together!

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  4. Thanks for the recommendation, Irene. I love Amy Tan's books, & wonder if I read it, where it might lead me?

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    1. Linda, I am sure wherever it leads you, it will be a good place to be. xo

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  5. I never know where the Comment Challenge will take me! This book sounds like one I need to read. I'm sure the things Amy Tan talks of are also true for illustrators. There are so many parallels between the two worlds. Thanks for sharing this.

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  6. Interesting thoughts, especially the way you worded it as sitting down with your worst experiences. Like the dinner (or like the dinner guest...) Interesting...

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  7. I think I try to forget my worst experiences so that is an interesting idea as the core of as story. You need mental strength to do that though!

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  8. Our best stories come from our worst life experiences. It's an intriguing thought. I definitely see the value of the worst moments changing us & helping us grapple with the fictional worlds we create, but to me, the writing experience feels more integrated -- an amalgam of the worst & best moments, the worst & best acquaintances, the breakneck-speed days & the ones that stretch on abundantly.

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  9. >>our best stories come from "our worst life experiences."<<
    What an intriguing idea. As it happens, my mg novel, ROSA, SOLA, was inspired by one of my own "worst life experiences"--my mother's near death after the stillbirth of my younger brother when I was 10. I'd never imagined I'd write about the experience, let alone see it published in a novel. The story grew out of a writing assignment while I was pursuing my MFA. So maybe there is some truth to Tan's words.

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