Obsess much?

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Obsessions are the fuel of stories. They are the fuel of poetry, drama, they are what pours us into our writing. We are obsessed with being left, with leaving, with our mother, with our father, with being the youngest, with being the prettiest, with being the ugliest, the smartest, the fastest. We want to control our obsessions but at our worst, they control us.

You don’t want to reveal your obsessions to people because they might use them against you. But I’ll tell you a few of mine. In my stories, there’s a little girl alone in a forest. It’s dark and there are no stars out.

There’s a girl who watches her parents drive away in a carriage. They are pulled by four horses. She is left behind sitting in a tree. Her feet are dangling from the branch. The girl’s father leaves first in the carriage and she doesn’t care, but then the mother leaves. After the mother leaves, the girl tries to fly out of the tree. Sometimes she has wings. Sometimes not.

We obsess about situations that remind us of our past. A past when we were smaller, more fragile. A past when we could not fight off intruders, when the world was too big for us.

Lolita is about an obsession with a girl. And it will be read into the next century. An evil man obsessed with a child, and it becomes a story that lives forever. Because we all know what evil means.

American Psycho is about a man who hates all women. I don’t think that story will be read in a hundred years not because it’s evil but because it’s a shallow formless evil.
Evil is a strange thing. As is obsession. What about the books of Cormac McCarthy? He doesn’t seem to have any women in his books and maybe that’s because he doesn’t know any. Women are complicated so maybe his stories work better without them. But his stories– dry of females always strike me as the same kind of experience as walking through a desert.

I like the book Sheltering Sky which balances male and female energy.

For the most part, obsessing is not a very positive thing. It’s really tedious when your friends are obsessing about a guy or their hair or their job or their mom or their friend Sherrie or some guy who gave a bad review to your book, movie or play.

Don’t abandon your obsessions; they are the stuff of stories. I’m keeping my dreams of mothers walking away, the stories of walking along the sky. The story of being in a sphere and then breaking the sphere open like cracking an egg. The story of swimming. The story of having very long legs and walking on them all over the world. The story of eagles. If you walk around New York too much, you might never see a tall woman with seven feet legs walking along the sky, but if you do, that would be me.

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Published in: on February 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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