Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hey, Humiliation! Thanks a Lot!

Czeslaw Milosz suggests that there is only one big theme for beginning writers, and that is humiliation. He says, " . . . open the treasury of your unrevealed and unconfessed, even to yourselves, experiences. These are the moments when you were, in one way or another, humiliated. Remember only those instants sticking in you like thorns, start harrowing them, and describe them in detail."

I'm not a beginning writer and/but there are things that, in a way, I've never gotten over. These turn up in disguise in my work and propel, sometimes, the whole enterprise. I was about ten and on vacation with my parents at Lake of the Ozarks. (Now Branson, MO.) I was skinny and self-conscious, like a lot of kids. Walking to the dock one day wearing a stupid swim suit with fish on it, some older girls laughed. Maybe not even at me, but that perceived humiliation is Ben's in STONER & SPAZ. Lucky me, huh?

Why be humiliated about humiliation? Why be embarrassed about those experiences. Revisit them. Have them over for drinks and chips. Tell them you've got some work for them to do, but first a nice dinner with lots of white wine!



  1. One of the benefits of being a writer is life provides so many continued opportunities for such experiences.

  2. I, too, experienced childhood humiliation at Lake of the Ozarks! Learning to ice skate. Which is never pretty.

    A crucial tip for beginning writers: visit southern Missouri.

  3. That's right Christine! See, we give really practical tips here!

  4. Someone please give Melinda some kind of award for that comment.

  5. Thanks, Christine and Erin!

    Yr fan,
    Northwest Missouri Gal

  6. Melinda --

    Nicely done. A cocktail of your choice. On me.


  7. If you were in the Branson area, you were probably at Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo (about a half hour from my ancestral home). Lake of the Ozarks is more toward the center of MO.

    So, there's another one for your humiliation file. Drinks and chips on me at the res, Ron.

  8. Dang, with that kind of motivation I should come up with puns more often.