Monday, September 20, 2010

Re-viewing the Loft

Friday night I gave a presentation with Pete Hautman (my guy), Deborah Keenan (poet/friend), and Mary Rockcastle (dean/novelist/buddy) at Hamline University for the publication of Views from the Loft. This is wonderful compilation of essays that was written over the last thirty-plus years for the newsletter of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, called, you might have guessed: A View from the Loft.

Besides reading other essays by some of my favorite writers, including Yehuda Amichai, Larry Sutin, Kate DiCamillo, and Jim Moore, I re-read my old essay: "Writing about the Mysteries of Life." I wrote this essay a good seventeen years ago and it was better than I thought it might be. It's a story that I've told many times and will probably continue to tell until I bite the big one—how I've come to write mysteries.

And so I thought I'd quote a bit of it in this blog:

" It flabbergasts me that some people disdain mysteries. But then, I'm also amazed when some writers think they've accomplished something by writing a complicated, erudite sentence that no one understands. Good writing is about telling stories, and confusion is not the same as mystery. Mystery is when everything is painfully clear: the sky is immensely blue, the land is covered with hills and valleys, and the person you most love in the world is dead at your feet. How could this have happened? Mysteries are not meant to be solved but explored—just as when someone dies, we are meant to feel it, not get over it."

The line I keep in my back pocket and pull out whenever there's a need for it is: Confusion is not the same as mystery.

Blessings to the Loft for creating a community of writers that is still thriving today.

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