Welcome Faye Rapoport DesPres to my What, Why, How Series about creativity!
For much of my creative writing career I have focused on observing life in this time and place and examining not only how various incidents and memories in my own life have affected me personally, but also how they relate to the more universal human experience. In my memoir-in-essays Message From a Blue Jay, I reached back to various moments and incidents in my life and examined why they had stuck with me. In turning those memories over in my mind and on the page, I tried to discover and express universal meanings and themes and ideas. Sometimes we feel so alone in our experiences, and it’s nice, through writing and reading, to discover that we’re not at all alone. We can be ourselves and at the same time find strength in numbers. I hope my work is about things that are far more interesting and important than myself, even when I’m writing about my own life. I like writing about animals and the natural world, for example, because protecting them is important to me. Now that I’m working on fiction as well as creative nonfiction, I realize that fiction and creative nonfiction writers are all searching for a way to express central ideas, just with a different type of storytelling. I’m tempted to say it’s easier to be “entertaining” when you’re writing fiction, but think of Bill Bryson – he’s so entertaining when he writes about his own life!
Anais Nin once said, “There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.” That’s what writing feels like to me, at least when it comes to writing personal essays…a search for truth and meaning that comes in fragments and segments, the way life does. It’s about a desire to grab life in the moment and live it fully and then, in looking back, to try to draw whatever can be taken from it as raw material for creating something new. I’d love to say, “Oh, I write just for the pure love of it! Art for art’s sake!” But like most writers, I also want to connect with readers. It’s kind of a dual experience…art for interest and pleasure of the art itself, yes, of course, but also with an eye, at least eventually, toward how the end result might be improved craft-wise and how it might interest and inspire and/or entertain others. Sometimes people say, “Writing is hard.” For me, writing itself isn’t hard. Writing is a release, and it’s easy and fulfilling and even fun. Writing well, however, is hard.
Learning, practice, trying, failing, learning, practice, trying, failing, trying again, and trying again, and sometimes just writing for myself and sometimes writing for someone else and sometimes throwing everything out and starting all over again and sometimes getting kicked in the gut and yelling in frustration and sometimes giving up and then five minutes later or the next day or the next week or the next month starting over and trying again. Practice, practice, practice, always remembering the goal: that rare moment when you put down the last few words of a piece you’ve been agonizing over and suddenly a tingling sensation runs up and down your spine and you know, you just know, “Yes, this is it, this is it! This is what I’ve been trying to say and how I want to say it!” And then, really, nothing else matters. For at least five minutes.
Faye Rapoport DesPres was born in New York City, spent most of her childhood in upstate New York, has lived in England, Israel, and Colorado, and is currently based in the Boston area. Her memoir-in-personal essays, Message From a Blue Jay, was published by Buddhapuss Ink in 2014 and examines life in the “middle decade.” Faye holds a MFA in Creative Writing degree from the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College, and she has published personal essays, short fiction, and poetry in a variety of literary journals. Faye is also an Adjunct Professor of English at Lasell College, where she teaches creative writing, literature, and freshman composition courses. She loves music and is interested in environmental conservation and animal rights. And hey, she’s a third degree black belt in Martial Arts.