I spoke at TEDx Greenville on March 22. I am a through and through introvert. TEDx? I only have Ideas Worth Keeping to Myself.
to large groups...isn't really my jam. I like workshops. A classroom
setting. A table discussion or meeting where everyone is sitting.
with bright lights in my eyes. Unable to see how the audience is
reacting. It freaks me out. Though I think I am getting better. I have
to thank the amazing Deb Sofield
and my husband Chris
in all, I'm pleased with my TEDx Experience. I got through it...and I
got the chance to talk about something that concerns me deeply.
Sometimes, because I also study writing, I feel encumbered by the
need for explanations. The need to explain how my writing works. To
justify what I’m doing. Why all this talk about deathbeds or lack of deathbeds and trees falling?
This need for explanation is not a real need — one of the perks of creative writing is that you never have to explain yourself.
Still. Permit me just this one explanation.
I have said that this isn’t my story and I have said that I’m trying to say more than my story. More than. But maybe this isn’t clear.
What I mean is…that I am trying to illustrate a way that things could happen more than I’m trying to tell you what happened.
I’m trying to say: This is how people start to feel isolated. No — this
is one way people could feel isolated. This is one way people could
fall through the cracks. These are some of the cracks. Here they are.
Early in my Sick Lit class, I always teach The Death Of Ivan Ilych.
The story has an interesting structure.
For one thing, it’s a circular narrative — meaning it begins and ends
in, essentially, the same place. With Ivan’s death. My students and I
talk about the effect of the circular narrative…about how circular
narratives replace suspense with dread. My students like this because
they understand it.
For another thing, the story is top-heavy: the first four chapters
take up as many pages as the last eight. I point this out to my
students. And then I point out how, in the last eight chapters, Ivan
imagines his life as “a train moving with increasing velocity.” The
structure of the story strengthens this feeling. And strengthens the
dread. My students like this, too. For many, it is an Aha! moment.