08. August 2012 · Comments Off on Writing the Autobiography · Categories: Writing

Everyone has his bell. This is to say, we all have our individual lives and those things which have happened to us. And even though we shape this material into a bell and put a clapper to it, it might not ring at all, or at best make only a dull sound.

Facts alone do not make a story. Plot is a device for the writers of fiction. But an autobiography which plots the course of one’s life must have a ring to it–a timbre, a cadence.

At the beginning, that special sound may just be heard inside your head and only for a moment. Something may occur to you, as in a dream, except you sense it was not a dream, but a visitation. Such moments are rare and fleeting. Generally, the geology of our lives is a layered mass–a labyrinthed mineshaft of compressed memory, charred meteors imbedded in brain cells. Still, in order to write recollectively, these blackened nodules must be visited. Then, when contact is made, they must be sensed beyond personal property and reset within a landscape whose topography may be traveled by all.

What has helped me was the image of the earth as seen from outer space by the astronauts. A new view of something very familiar, a distant perch. This gave perspective to the canvas.

What also helped was the continual buffing of the bell. The continual working of the material from the inside. It was the sound I heard from a section which had been buffed right, that kept me going.

It took a long time to ring the bell.