Here is something so interesting to me: Today, I attended a reading and heard three different pieces of writing read aloud. Each of them had a very different kind of energy. While this is hard to describe, it’s worth trying to, because energy is so important in writing. For me, energy is what lifts words off the page and brings them into our hearts and minds. It’s the shimmering, quivering bridge between the writer and reader. Writing that lacks energy is static, flat, turgid, and heavy: it lacks wings.
Hearing three different kinds of energy today was fascinating. The first selection was by my dear friend and writing buddy, Nancy. It was creative nonfiction and focused on the life of a woman named Imbi, who survived World War II in Estonia. The energy of this piece was a mix of personal history and global history. For me, it had a clear, steady kind of energy, the energy of someone’s personal courage in the face of danger.
The second reading had a very different kind of vibe. Its selections, a poem and short story, were propelled by street energy, hustle energy, the kind of manic energy that a drug high must give. There was a driving, almost desperate, misplaced vitality about it that was very seductive: it sucked you in. It was disorienting and exhilarating at the same time.
The third reading was a monologue in which a woman gave all the reasons why she wouldn’t be attending her 20th class reunion. This piece had a bitter, bitchy, besieged kind of energy. It was all about payback and disappointed dreams. It looked back in anger.
Energy: It drives our stories and propels our readers into and through them. What kind of energy are you going for in the current project you’re working on? Something for us all to think about. Write on!