Do you listen to your body? Do you overrule yourself and go against instinct? If you are in an odd situation how do you feel your way through things?
Moving from performing to writing and then back again I am reminded of this physical guidance system built into our nervous system.
I put a scene together in a chapter of one of my novels, building it piece by piece, brick by brick until it finally comes alive. The words and actions of the characters when carefully constructed can create the illusion of an experience. It rings true.
My men need women in my fiction and I have no choice but to get out my set of tools and construct them. I grew up in a family with three sisters.
I was always so at home with the women I danced with. I became one of them. They needed to forget about my gender, at least while we were dancing, we had work to do.
The women were in a competition with one another. It was their turf. In class once I had been accepted I was allowed to observe how they would jockey for advantage with one another.
There was nuance. They veiled their thoughts. Their eyes spoke nothing. Then, all at once I might note one of the dancers stealing a glance. They looked away. In their eyes you could see their thinking.
First and foremost I saw women with a fierce determination. They all seemed tough. They maintained a resolute confidence. Even the second or third or fourth best dancer among the women danced as if they were the best.
After class they would allow that another dancer might have an edge but while they were on the dance floor in a studio they moved with grit and confidence. I admired the women because their strength of character was colored with such a rich and textured vulnerability that you would seldom if ever find in the men.
In many ways I am very feminine, and I don’t mean in some silly insecure sense of the meaning, but each of us is in fact not just all male or all female. We all have some aspect, some fraction that consists of the other gender, and that other is located within us.
One of the privileges of fiction is that it allows us to channel these multitudes of people that inhabit our being. We have a duty to honor them and to speak as truthfully for them as our received wisdom allows.
A human being is in some odd sense a repository of experiences that transcends this one mortality. We know things that have come stored in our souls. There is a vast treasure of humanity capable of speaking through us. It is a mystery some days and as ordinary as old wallpaper on others.
*A neighbor friend of mine who reads novels voraciously enjoyed your “Bankrupt Heart” immensely. He especially appreciated the atmosphere of the boatyard, a place and milieu imaginative literature had not yet taken him. He was also taken by the depth and authenticity of the characters. *
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