Friday, January 13, 2012

Our Stories are Such a Mystery and a Blessing!

By Claudia Ricci

Why do writers write novels? Because they love to write, because they have a story that's begging to be told, because they hold words to their hearts like glittering diamonds, because they have an itch that can only be scratched out in long silver sentences, because they want to celebrate life and love, because they have a question that nags and begs and pleads and refuses to go away, because they are immersed in a mystery that demands to be solved, because they need writing as much as they need breathing, because laying down words is like a powerful dream and an amazing drug, one that occasionally delivers aha AHA AHAHAHAHAHA moments that make you laugh and sing and chant and dance and jump up and down and hug yourself. Sometimes the discoveries are so absolutely jubilant and joy-filled that they go over the top and won't stop, like

today for example, when you finally finally finally finally after 17 long and torturous writing years finally finally see how the last chapters of the novel you have hated and loved and thrown away and dug out of the garbage and cursed and adored, when you finally see how the last part of the novel plays out.

At that moment, you feel like writing is a truly mystical and sacred thing, one that gives you a peek into the transcendent, one that explains how the word, how the very vibration of the words, are sacred things, and you understand why every religion has its BIBLE or KORAN, words spoken into sacred truth, how the Torah for example, is the very Tree of Life, and how writing is really and truly a great blessing and a privilege that we should never ever take for granted or deplore even on those horrible days when you can't write a flipping thing.

My own mystery is this thing I call


a book which you cannot pick up or put down, a 17 long year, gargantuan undertaking that felt so often like it would put me under, a marathon like no other I've ever had, an epic journey that I am still taking, a coming-to-consciousness about the very nature of reality, a binary back-and-forth which has finally become some kind of Unity of VOICE, a deep deep mystery that keeps unfolding, a story that gave birth to a nun
in front of a mirror, a nun who in the words of her cousin slipped effortlessly into flaming flamenco garb, a nun who like me spent years in prison being punished, and then, just last month, she slipped out the door just LIKE

THAT, in one chapter, in plain old words, she went free taking me with her.

Today at my meditation table the mystery of it all and the last few chapters just exploded into my head like wild fireworks an explosion of light, light that is still burning in the candle that won't stop this morning, wax pouring out, light pouring too, just like that other morning in November 2010, when a candle burned mysteriously for hours and hours while I sat here and there in wonder and deep gratitude that this mystery -- of writing, of discovery, of love -- has been bestowed on me.

If I sound like I'm starting to come unglued, let me say that this is how it feels to be a writer at the end of a long long writing project, one that holds you in its clutches until you are released. The first time I wrote a novel this happened, one day I produced about a dozen journal pages when I figured out the ending, the ending came to me in a wild frenzy of brain activity, what feels and felt like a boundless discovery of ideas, your brain sizzles and pops and the words, like the wax of this candle burning, just won't stop.

One curious thing about this ending, it's all tied up with my ear ringing.

Very peculiar how it happened: a few weeks ago, just about the time that Sister Renata went out the door freeeeeeeeeeee, I woke up with my left ear ringing.

I kept hoping it would go away but it only kept getting worse. I opened Louise Hay's book, You Can Heal Your Life, and it said that ear ringing
(otherwise known as tinnitus) is in effect caused by a person's unwillingness to listen to an inner voice.

When I read that, I went, oh come on, please, I am constantly listening to my inner voice, I meditate every day, I do yoga, and I write and write and I am constantly listening to my inner voice.

But no.

I had to listen more closely. MUCH more closely.

Two weeks ago, my dear friend Peg and I sat down in my den to write, it was a Thursday, December 29th, we decided to write nothing but questions and at first it felt like I was picking at the hard icy surface of the pond outside the window.

I wrote a few questions down, and so did she, and then we read them aloud. Peg is my all-time best writing buddy who's read virtually every word of this million-word novel SISTER MYSTERIES (which she at one point renamed SISTER MISERIES). She has lived through the misery with me, always telling me to write the "true" story, always encouraging, never doubting.

That day in the den two weeks ago, Peg saw straight to the core of it what I was writing and said two things, "Claud I finally get it, this book has been a penance for you," and I realized that she was absolutely right, the book has been a kind of punishment for all these long years, one that so many times I wished would go away. The other thing she said was, "Claud, why is it that when you start writing about core connections between this story of the nun and the true story of your own life, and your illness, and the connection between your mom's illness and your own, why do you always always just stop?"

I had nothing to say in reply. I sat in the den and felt like I wanted to cry because I felt so frozen up inside and my ear was ringing and it was miserable.

The next day, I sat down, was not planning to write, I just opened the file of questions that I had written with Peg, and the next thing I knew I had written this Celebration of Freedom, I wrote for three hours, poured out 3,000 words, my head started exploding with connections between the book and my life, I wrote about my memories of being in a tiny prison -- a hospital crib -- and my mother coming to visit me and her catching cold and getting very sick and developing asthma and me feeling responsible, me feeling this huge guilt just like the nun, just like Sister Renata,

I have for all these years of writing, felt like I was being punished for a crime I didn't commit, like the story had to come out of my ribcage, like it was imprisoned there, and I didn't know this until the other day, but Denise, my energy person in Vermont, says that "our childhood memories are stored in our ribs."

Why do writers write novels? To do deep psychic work through words, to solve binaries, to resolve conflicts.

A writer writes to transcend the daily humdrum lives we lead. To peer deep into the pools of mystery that underlie the illusion that we share, called reality.

Writers write stories so that they can discover their deepest truths, truths that help propel them into a new consciousness, one that transcends. Readers read so that they too can peer into a higher spiritual realm, if only for a few minutes, a few hours.

For both reader and writer, our stories are a gift and such a blessing.

1 comment:

Kellie said...

Powerful words Claudia. So true. You have captured what writing does for--to--the writer beautifully. I do feel like I am giving myself a hug sometimes, and I always feels transcended by the stories that come from me. The photos are amazing and perfect accompaniment to the words. And what you discovered about your connections with Sister Renata as you were swept up for three hours in the words that poured out on the page are blowaway!