Sunday, July 22, 2012

2012.07.22 Writing the Whole Arc/Staying the Course

I have trouble sticking to the direction when I write. I love to riff. I write as if I were a jazz musician going off on tangents that may be relevant but take a reader off the path of the narrative/melody.   It’s a bad habit I’m trying to curb because not everyone likes or can follow all that jazz. 

Mary Magdalene, a biblical hero of mine whose day it is on our liturgical calendar, stayed the course. Her life choice was to follow Jesus of Nazareth. She’d benefited from his healing gifts and, instead of running off to do her own life (something I know I would have done after I remembered my manners and said thank you) she hung out for more. 

She soaked in his wisdom and, from what we can tell, Jesus held her in esteem and held her dear.  She was present and named for all the big events of his life including his death, and the church honors her as a saint and the first messenger of the good news of resurrection— even though few parishes remember her day.  Why?  Oh, don’t ask.

Here is brief but wonderful advice about such undistracted purpose of life. I will tape it to my computer desk, my fridge, my forehead.  It comes from one of my favorite actor’s Judi Dench in her 2012 memoir, “And furthermore.”

Dench, as a young aspirant learned to speak Shakespeare from the great British actor Sir John Gielgud. She writes: “I have always said to students that if you really want to know how to speak Shakespeare, Sir John and Frank Sinatra will teach you.  Because one used to present the whole arc of a speech, and the other presented the whole arc of a song, without any intrusive extreme emphases.”

That wisdom hit me up side the head. Let me not forget. Let me be so in love with my story that I do not sacrifice its arc for my tantalizing distractions. Let me write in rainbows—the whole arc.

And let me not stray from the arc of divine goodness but write it with clarity and as much brevity as I can muster, so my  ideas and stories won’t drown in the rushing pace of this culture—or that of my distracted mind.