Monday, January 24, 2011


by Gina Sestak

I want to step aside for a few moments from our usual posts that focus on marketing, writing, and related life experience to dig down to a deeper level.  We've probably all asked ourselves at one time or another, "Where do the stories come from?"  Most writers tend to credit chance encounters, random media reports, other people's writing, inspiration, etc.  I propose that stories come from deep within ourselves, from the same point of origin as dreams.  They bubble up through our unconscious, picking up bits and pieces of our unique world view, before we ever try to put them on a page.

This is the truth:  There's no such thing as writer's block.  Within each of us there is an inexhaustible supply of fiction waiting to come out.  The problem arises at the point of translating this material into writing that can see the light of day.

My present WIP is a screenplay I call The Spiral Path.  The title refers to a particular shamanic/mystical technique, but also to the journeys of the two main characters who spend the story moving toward their own authentic selves.

Authenticity is a loaded word, harking back to that most basic question:  Who am I?  Who am I really?

I've mentioned in past posts the Acting for the Camera class I took last term at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  I start the follow-up class tonight, so authenticity is on my mind.  While it may seem like a contradiction in terms, acting on screen requires tapping into a level of authenticity most of us never need to show in daily life.  IMHO, so does writing.

So, how does one go about tapping into authenticity?

One of my favorite poems suggests the answer:

Seeker Of Truth by E. E. Cummings
seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here

What truth lives in the core of our being where the stories hide?

It's tempting to see the journey as a direct path:

In my experience, it's much more of a maze, not black and white but multi-colored overlapping paths, mostly dead-ends, much more complex than any two-dimensional (or even three-dimensional) image can show.

It can take a life time to find our way into the core.  The stories are our guides.


Ramona said...

At the risk of harping endlessly about this movie, I went to see The King's Speech this weekend. I'm not much of a believer in royalty, but it struck home how these folks are so not allowed to be themselves. Although it was a true story, the stuttering was a metaphor for that denial of self.

The authentic self--I will think about this, Gina.

Gina said...

Exactly, Ramona. The King's Speech is a great film, as much for the subtle ways it doesn't make things explicit as the overt ways in which it does. We the audience know what England was facing at that point in history, and how much it needed a monarch who could not only be strong but sound capable of leading a nation under attack, yet we're caught up in this one man's struggle to find his voice as if it were a purely personal issue. And the acting was stupendous.