Saturday, January 5, 2013

Writing and the Creative Process - guest post from Daniel DiStasio


Writing and the Creative Process 
Daniel DiStasio

When asked about writing and the creative process, I always fall back on the basics. Writing is story. Story is character. On a neighborhood street, I see an old woman walking a little dog and I imagine her previous life. The heartbreaks, landmarks, first kiss, last orgasm.  Did she bury her husband or leave him in Moscow? Were the dirty bedroom slippers and knee highs once fine silk stockings and sexy sleek pumps?  There’s a daughter in Humboldt working at a medical marijuana facility who calls once a week.  A son who got caught up in fire arms deal on the Mexican border and was never heard from again.  But Ida, the name she assumed so many years ago, Ida knows the son is dead, just as she know the daughter will be relieved when she dies, so the obligatory phone calls can cease, and the daughter can lay back in bed with her girlfriend on Sundays and not have to worry if she is too high to follow a conversation.   But Ida is the story. Ida is the character.  I love Ida. I will follow her wherever she goes.

My creative life began as an actor. I studied the Stanislavsky’s method, observed Lee Strasberg at work in “The Actor’s Studio”, took classes with Uta Hagen and spent weeks preparing for roles by meditating myself into a trance of belief in characters that did not exist.  Writing became an extension of this living with characters.  If the characters are not real to me, they will never be real to an audience.  How do they become real? They live real lives inside of me.  Many writers keep journals; I do too.  But they are not my journals; they are the diaries of my characters.  They write them, and I channel them, and become them. I listen to their favorite songs, eat their favorite foods, suffer through their pains and tremble with their fears.

For writers, writing is living. Often, it is living someone else’s life. Someone you know, imagine, love and cannot live without.   Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”  Story is character.  If a character lives inside you, let her out. As Maya Angelou says it’s unbearable to keep her inside.

My first novel Facing the Furies had twelve characters who fought the forces of nature during hurricane season in the Keys.  The strongest reaction I get from readers is about the characters.  Readers speak of them as real people.  They worry about them after the story ends. They tell me they know these people.  They never say they are characters. They are alive.  They are the story.

Facing the Furies is available through Vagabondage Press, Amazon and other online outlets.  If you would like to read more of my wanderings, including running the NYC marathon this Fall, excerpts from my next novel, please check out http://danieldistasio.com/index.html