My primary goal for writing is/was academic; I just enjoy it immensely, but it's funny how all this time on my hands pulled me toward another type of writing.
Recently during a thoughtful Tuesday, I felt a story haunting me that has been growing in my brain for about 3 years now. Creative writing has been something I've dabbled in secretly, perhaps for the reason Cixous describes in her famous essay, "The Laugh of the Medusa":
And why don't you write? Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it. I know why you haven't written. (And why I didn't write before the age of twenty-seven.) Because writing is at once too high, too great for you, it's reserved for the great-- that is, for 'great men'; and it's 'silly.' Besides, you've written a little, but in secret. And it wasn't good, because it was in secret, and because you punished yourself for writing, because you didn't go all the way...
I think everyone wants to protect their creative process, but at any rate, I decided just to keep going. The thrill of writing fiction is a bit electrifying. I lock myself in my study for hours on Tuesdays and Fridays and write.
What a pleasure and a sweet luxury!
From that story, I was inspired yet again to write another. What surprised me was the subject matter and setting of both stories. From the looks of my inspiration, I think our tiny valley has a lot of highly interesting dynamics and plot lines: Immigration, poverty, survival, drugs, family loyalty, machismo mentality, border culture, language, tradition, education, lack of quality medical care to name a few. I found myself writing about these themes as naturally as breathing; but isn't this place the most uninspiring corner of the planet?
Not in the least!
Some time ago while watching Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" on CNN (I just love him), I was reminded of William Faulkner's inspiration. Bourdain toured Faulkner's home of Rowan Oak where he soaked in the seemingly bland culture of the South to create his Yoknapatawpha County. Of course, Faulkner's stories are anything but bland; the characters and plot lines demonstrate the complexity of small town minds of everyday people and their problems. I find adding the border dynamic to that mix a recipe for some entertaining writing.
I still want to submit some academic papers before Christmas to keep my CV breathing. I'm used to rejection and the slight chance of acceptance, so that never rattles me; but these stories already feel like my word babies, and I want to protect them a little longer.