Passions and Obsessions: Your Personal Doorway
All writers should have, in my opinion, a small notebook to carry around with them. In this notebook, you are going to create an ongoing list of topics that you know you have to write about. These topics are your list of “Passions and Obsessions.”
These are the stories you have never written and know that you have to write. These are the incidents and people who have changed your life forever. These are the topics that drive you. There is energy here. There may very well be
unprocessed grief here. There may be addiction, past or present here. There is obsessive or unrequited love. There is the child you love with unspeakable abandon who then grows up and breaks your heart. There is the former lover who overdosed. There are the hauntings, there are regrets, there are questions and drives that take a hold of your soul and won’t let go.
There is the ongoing gestalt of what makes you who you are in this particular lifetime.
My mentor, the late Spalding Gray, spoke in every show about two things, no matter what other stories he told. He spoke of suicide: his mother’s, and the thoughts he had of his own. And, he spoke of the quest for the perfect moment. These passions and obsessions informed his work.
My own passions/pathos include a quest for a lofty kind of enlightenment that always fails me, mothering through deep authenticity, and the practice of “radical faith.” One of my obsessions is also the play between light and shadow, in myself and others, a deep quest for finding true love, no matter what the cost to myself. God, Sex, Falling in Love and Leaving are topics that pull on me time and time again. I can’t escape them and they show up in all of my work (and in my life) whether it is written or performed onstage.
I have many topics written in my little notebook on all of these themes. The individual stories continue to show up as additions on my ongoing list of “Passions and Obsessions.”
Assignment for the Day:
Buy a small special notebook that you can carry in your purse or pocket. Get something colorful, or hand-made if you can. I’d like you to feel drawn to the notebook itself because this is a sacred object. The notebook will hold the list of your stories. Some will feel unspeakable, or impossible to write, or “too much.” Just write the topic down anyway.
It will be held safely in this small book, until you are ready.
This helps you get some of the heaviness of some of the stories you carry, out of your mind and on to the page, in a safe place, until you are ready to unpack them.
As you are ready, begin to write from your ongoing list, once a day, once a week or once a month. Schedule your writing dates with yourself. Put them into your calendar just as you would schedule a coffee date with a friend. Don’t break the date.
And…consider this assignment ongoing.