For Saturday, March 19, 2016:
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”
Oh, I remember them. Some of the external ones are still visible, even 40 or 50 years later. If one looks closely, you might see one or two that are still there from almost 60 years ago.
The internal ones are harder to identify, of course, but they’re there as well and, again, visible if one knows what to look for. Once in a while some scar or another peeks through in conversation, but most of the spiritual and emotional ones show up in my poems.
The scars that have healed to the point of scar tissue sometimes serve as catalysts for particular characters in my own fiction, but as I write it’s important for me to remember that not every injury, not every scar heals fully. Not in real life and not in fiction. Every Superman has his kryptonite, every Scarlett O’Hara has at least one dress made out of drapes, every Achilles has his heel.
If you think about it, the characters we remember best usually are the ones with the most massive scars because they’re the ones who have emerged stronger on the other side. It’s possible we may not like where they come out, but at least we know they’re trying. We can relate to them – we’ve been there and we know the struggle all too well. We know those scars won’t go away completely. They’ll peek through occasionally, in one form or another, usually in recognition of the scars of someone else. Each stage of healing may evoke someone or something new, and fresh tissue is added to protect the old. Or the wound is opened up again and the process starts again.
And here’s the thing: whether our scars appear in fictional characters or in poetry or in memoir, every time we write about them, a little more personal healing takes place. We need those scars, that scar tissue, for ourselves and on behalf of our characters. As a beloved friend once told me, that’s what develops … well, character.