Finding Irish Grace

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Writing a book is like eating an elephant—you do it one bite at a time.

Write what you know.  Write what you KNOW. Writewhatyouknow.  A successful writer must have a grasp of words and language. A good writer must have a vivid imagination. A good writer must have a keen sense of observation. A good writer must write each day.  A good writer must write what she knows.  Of course she has to write what she knows!  What else would she write?  In order to write what one knows, one must be honest.  It has taken me a couple of years, but I think I have reached the level of honesty and knowledge it will take to actually write more than seven paragraphs in the form of a one-sided blog.  I have decided to write a book—the book; the book that has been living inside me since I was a child.

I couldn’t have begun writing a book in my teens or 20’s; I had no real experience from which to draw. Many of the experiences I did have in early adulthood were tragic or awkward. Many were magnificent and a few, although not magnificent or tragic, were moments created just for me, by me, in my endeavor to establish confidence in myself. Sometimes I achieved a place where I thought I might belong for a time, or something I could call my own.  The moments, the hours, the days were just that, however—tragic, awkward, amazing, or even mundane at times.  I did not see them for what they actually were—pivotal moments of devastating disappointment or positive recognition.  I always wanted to write, but I could not process the experiences as good fodder for a book.  So, while I did not actually lack true experience, what I did lack was honesty in interpreting life changing events as they occurred.  Allow me to put it another way–I believe an artist can look at the ugly and find the beautiful, but the writer must look past the beautiful and find the ugly.  I attempted this in several soul-searching blogs, but I simply was not ready to do it fully til now.

One thing I have always possessed, however, was love of observing people.  I don’t remember a time I did not enjoy watching people and guessing what their life story was.  I always assumed it was tragic, however. If I spotted a married couple in a restaurant having a serious discussion that I could not hear, I knew they were probably talking about their children, but not the extra-marital affair he was having. Perhaps he was having it with the server who just brought their drinks.

I also liked to hear life stories; the experiences of a person’s life that made him who he was; to explain to me why, perhaps, he behaved the way he did. I like thinking of people who cross my path and then writing their stories in my head.  I was eager to write a few years ago, as the people I thought about seemed, to me, to want to have their stories told.  They merely became characters—overlapping in experiences and with such interest to me that I wanted to write everyone’s story, embellishing the tragic, of course, because for whatever reason, the tragedy in normal people’s lives intrigues me. Not in a voyeuristic manner, but in a way that I wanted to understand how they survived or grew because I wanted to understand and overcome my own tragedies and failures.  I did not want to be alone in my own disappointments, feelings of abandonment, or inadequacies.

I started blogging three years ago, but I could not grasp the element of honesty required to write with what I felt was integrity or believability. I knew nothing. I tried to write about current events or politics, but I lacked any real conviction or knowledge of the subject.  I would publish, cringe, and feel stupid.  I also have such a pluralistic view of politics that most days I don’t know what I believe. I don’t have the time or inclination to devote to filtering or interpreting that sort of information to the point I can write a cogent analysis of anything of a political nature, but I certainly tried.  I wanted to write and this seemed safe.

I tried to be funny.  I’m not. I can be funny for about five seconds at a time, but what I cannot do is be funny for 5-7 paragraphs and if I want to write a book, I know I can’t be funny for 300 pages.  My observations of life are rarely all that funny; they are generally tragic (except for child rearing and with that you have to maintain a sense of humor).  I don’t want it to be that way, but it is how I see the world and if I plan to be successful, I must interpret what I see both inside and outside my head as I honestly do; my trying to be a comedian simply screams failure. I have decided to leave the humorous observations of life to the comedians who get book deals.  My observations on life are rarely funny; they are mostly…tragic.

Sixty blogs later with MaryMind and I still had not found my voice, my niche, my style.  I was giving up because I still knew nothing. Then I began another website and contributed only short stories, but this too, proved to be a pointless endeavor.  Except for the ability to practice writing, to exercise the writing muscle, and to realize what I did not want to write about, both were proving pointless, as my ultimate goal was a book.  Then I found her.  Short story #19 was where I found Irish Grace.  Suddenly all the faces of all the people whose stories I wanted to tell became clear to me and Irish Grace was at the forefront.  She has been inside me for years, but I never could give her a voice til now.  I’m nearly 40 years old and Irish has been waiting all my life to have me tell her story and I believe I am ready.  Irish is damaged and angelic; beautiful and ugly. Irish Grace will have a lot of me in her. After all, she came from me.

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