Saturday, April 19, 2008

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

Discussion in comments on the previous post are prompting some thinking on my part.

I am not of a particularly monastic bent, but I live alone and like it that way. Solitude, though it is a state of aloneness, does not mean loneliness.

I've often wondered what kind of person I'd be now if I'd actually gotten married either of the two times I was engaged in the distant past. I don't think I'd be particularly happy. Neither of those people nor I was ready for the commitment required of a truly successful marriage.

Each time, I thought I was in love. With distance, clarity, and honesty, I now know I never really was. Nor were they. Ex-Fiance Number One said that getting married was the only way to get sex and still remain true to our faith. There had been nothing like that between us; I was true to that faith, the other person was not--nor felt any need to be true to me, either, as I discovered.

Went through an emotional and spiritual tailspin after that, righted myself a little, tried to go forward, made many mistakes while trying to regain my footing.

(November 2007, Little Portion Hermitage prayer garden)

Some people can take their troubles and turn them into artwork, can paint or dramatize or write them down. Until the past several years, I've made a habit of trying to forget them. Problem was, I couldn't live my life forward if I was chained by bitterness, anger, fear. When I finally started facing those demons, then the characters in my fiction could face theirs, and that's when the stories started coming alive.

I am now at a critical juncture in the current Dragon manuscript, when Gaerbith must send away Yanamari. These are two strong characters, each with their own demons--his the necessity of doing something for the good of others though at great personal cost, and hers the desire to live brave and free--but they are also bound to one another. Not, perhaps, mirrors of each other, they nonetheless recognize and admire the strength they see. They fit.

I am at a loss as to how to proceed. This scene needs to be as strong as they are, and full of the power of as-yet-unspoken emotion, but not sappy. It is my vow to avoid sap at all costs.

She asks him--twice, at different times--if his is a task that must be accomplished alone. He sidesteps the questions, giving her advice instead, and telling her what she should do for her own protection once she reaches the place where he is sending her. He does not have to go alone, but he thinks it best. This would anger her, I'm pretty sure. How dare he think for her? Decide for her?

His men slap her on the back and treat her with an odd mix of the respect due one of their own and the formal courtesy due a king's daughter. He, however, has a push/pull sort of relationship with her, each having rescued the other in their flight from the king.

Companionship and solitude--both have a place. How to reconcile them? That is the question.


Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

You've posed the sixty-four thousand dollar question: how to reconcile companionship and solitude. Its a very fine balancing act sometimes.

Your past history is are your views on solitude. It's my first visit to your blog, but it won't be my last.

I also like that photograph very much. The light coming through the stained glass.....I would like to stand in the middle of that picture...looks like perfect place for quiet contemplation.

Lavinia Ladyslipper


It is a great place -- quiet, isolated, in the mountains, very much "back to the earth" in its layout and daily life.

Those stained glass windows are scattered around the garden walk, and its easy to just stand there and forget to keep walking!

I've only been there in the autumn, but I'd like to go again some time in spring or summer.

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

I just re-read your post. Lots to consider in there. I confess, I haven't read fantasy or sci-fi in years. One book I did really enjoy was Colin Wilson's "The Mind Parasites", though I read it many years ago.

I love the mountains but don't live anywhere near them. I think they are God's landscape. Very conducive to thinking the deeper thoughts of life.

Anonymous said...

Amiga, the photo was beautiful. In your post--which was inspirational for me, of course!--I was reminded of a book I own, "A Search For Solitude: The Journals Of Thomas Merton". I haven't read it all the way through, but I do remember that he was seeking to be alone--which is hard to do even if you do take the cloistered path! A good read, but take it bit by bit