Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Story, Too...

... A review The Soul Tells a Story, by Vinita Hampton Wright.

It happened thirty years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. My seventh-grade English teacher asked me -- in front of the whole class -- what I wanted to do when I grew up. I don't remember why I was singled out, but I do remember the immediacy of my response.

"I want to write," I said confidently.

"What do you want to write?" he asked.

I didn't know ... but that wasn't going to stop me. We had just finished The Red Pony and Of Mice and Men, and so I ignored Mr. Burke for the rest of the class and plunged into creating a short story about a horse named Lenny. I wasn't particularly fond of horses, and I hadn't a clue about plot or character development or anything else that it takes to write well. I was woefully lacking in knowledge and experience. But desire, that I had in spades.

In her powerful treatise on the inner life of a writer, Vinita Hampton Wright explores this creative spark.

I believe that the universe waits for us to follow desires that are too tall an order. When we desire big things, God is ready to step in with the grace and the growth. It's better that I long for peace in my marriage than cover that desire with the "need" to suddenly look twenty-five again. I'll go further in my soul development if I desire the best use of my creative gifts rather than concoct a desire to climb some social or financial ladder. ...

I believe that my deepest, truest desires are actually the Creator's desires for me. ... Your deep desires are located in that well that is your very soul, and God created our souls to move us constantly toward health and wisdom and peace (p.102).

The writing process is often -- though not always, as Vinita points out -- a solitary endeavor. The world of publishing is, first and foremost, about relationships between people: Those who read, and those who write, and those who mentor, and those who critique. Perhaps most important, those whose lives spin out before us, as we take it all in and try to make sense of it all. It is the desire to create, to write, to express that anchors us. It is also this desire that gives us wings to experience more.

Drawing largely from her own experience, the author also writes about the "dark side" of writing, the smouldering of thought that can have a depressive effect on the spirit. To write well is to step into the void ... and to make no attempt to stifle the screams of terror or the shrieks of delight. This is perhaps the most painful part of the creative process, since many writers tend to be a bit introverted by nature. But to write well is, above all, to tell the terrifying truth, and to let the world listen in.

Any child can write a story of a pony. But it is an accomplishment of an altogether different kind to lasso the galloping, sweaty-flanked stallions of the human experience. The first is easily forgotten; the second resonates, and keeps them coming back for more.

In The Soul Tells a Story, Vinita pens her search for the sweaty-flanked stallion... And in my opinion, her novels tell the story of a fearless soul who, each time she catches that wild horse, continues the quest for another to add to her stable.

Vinita Hampton Wright will be a keynote speaker at the RBTE Catholic Writer's Conference. If you'd like more information about the conference, click here. For more about Vinita, click here.


Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Hi Heidi,

I had reviewed "The Soul Tells A Story" for my website. Check out the review here:

I look forward to meeting Venita at the conference!


Pat Gohn said...

So glad you have benefitted from Vinita's work! Her book really moved me and, as as an inspirational journal, gave "words" to my experience.

Leticia said...

I LOVE that quote, I felt it resonating in my soul!
For thirty years or so, I have had the same desire as you, Heidi, to write, which my self-doubt kept supressing. Yet that desire must have been placed in my heart from God, because it kept stubbornly resurfacing, and finally,at 45, I'm a writer!
I'm making plans for that conference. I want to hear MORE from Vinita!

elena maria vidal said...

Looking forward to the conference and to meeting Venita and everyone else.