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Painting by Joseph Stoitzner

“Where there is no emotion there is no life. If you have to learn something by heart and it is of no interest to you, there is no fire; it does not register, even if you read it fifty times. But as soon as there is emotional interest, it need only be read once and you know it. Therefore emotion is the carrier of consciousness; there is no progress in consciousness without emotion.”
Marie Louise von Franz

…and how we are all
preparing for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly
so Biblically
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love

so that when
we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and everything confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,

but you don’t
because finally
after all this struggle
and all these years
you don’t want to any more
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness
however fluid and however
dangerous to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

Fragment of the poem THE TRUELOVE

Is there any art without emotion? In fact, what is life without emotion? As I apply myself to writing, I find myself drawn to discussing ideas. I keep trying to see the kernel of meaning in how we live and think. That’s not storytelling nor does it involve much emotion, for the reader at least. But for me, it has an undying attraction. I watch writers who write well to see how they mix the important questions with storytelling.

I’m still working on that. I think the worst sin an artist can commit is to be boring. Writers who put it all together — Barbara Kinsolver comes to mind — are both inspiring and intimidating. Good storytelling without ideas can more easily survive than good ideas without storytelling, in my opinion.

The reason I hesitate to call myself a real writer is because for me a writer is a storyteller. That’s a craft I’m still working on. My life is rich with stories, it’s just that the elements that attract my focus have always been whatever overarching meaning I can detect in the human mess.

How should one live? What makes a good life? How do we miss the mark? Those are the questions I’ve spent my life trying to answer. Looking back, I seem to have been many different people with different views on these issues. I’ve forgotten all the people I used to be. I shed them like old clothes. Now is what’s interesting to me.

That’s a story, isn’t it? Any one of those fools I used to be has a story to tell, going all the way back to childhood. Anyone alive has the job of finding love and a meaningful life. I am no different. My story is a tale of finding myself repeatedly making the same mistakes, until I stumbled onto the right path.

My school was the school of mistakes, of trying a lot of stuff I had no business doing. Not this-not that, you could say. And yet, that’s how I learned. I’m sure I’ll do the same with writing. I’ll try a lot of different things just to see how they feel. If there’s no emotion there, no feeling involved, I’ll move on. Eventually, I’ll work out what kind of writer I am. I’m in the beginning stages.

If I ever learn how to tell a good story, I’ll be happy to tell people I’m a writer. Until then, I’m a student writer.

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