General Writing, Language and the Way of Words

The Bridge as Web; Good News and Bad

Wow, there were words in the last post I didn’t even understand. I finally looked up “apophatic” and started to spend my time needed to write this posting following the links, the threads of the web in which the word connects to other words. You know what I mean.

But this news has come in, and I am singing the praises of this writer and her now prizewinning manuscript, Living the Wildlife-this from Amy Fisher, in New Mexico:

“I was honored to receive first prize in nonfiction at an award dinner at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference last week in Seattle, Washington. I entered the first 20 pages from my memoir in progress, Living the Wildlife. The PNWA is the largest and oldest writers group in the Northwest with a membership of about 1,000 writers Anyone may apply to their annual contest (12 categories) and I would encourage it (see The annual conference combines seminars and agent/editor meetings for writers seeking to publish work, or just to get a feel for how the business works. Writers who place (10 finalists in each category) are flagged with a red ribbon on their name tag and first place winners with a blue ribbon too so as to alert agents, so if you never did the horse thing, here’s your chance.”

Amy was a student of mine and a client, so please go to Individual Services for Writers to see what she has to say about working with me.

Now, I am afraid the other news is not so joyous. As you have probably heard, a bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. The death toll has gone up and down, there are many cars still in the water since yesterday evening, and so the dread is growing. Under that bridge, in those waters, is tragedy. Throughout the cities, the same. And because the Twin Cities has become a place of immigrants, from Africa, from Southeast Asia, from Latin America and the Caribbean, from all over the world, there is no telling the map of this tragedy, the shape of this story.

People have been calling me all night and day, to make sure I am okay, and I thankfully am. Here is an event, a tragic event, that is in the middle, here, for a moment, of the vast spider web of events and histories and crossings that is some of the stuff of story. Not a story to be repeated with the same 50 words on the news, hourly or constantly; not a story to simply play upon the emotions, the fear, of global and local spectators; but a story to tell in the way the spider web shows us to. To tell the story of one event-a tragic/unexpected/expected collapse of infrastructure and its consequences, or one object-a bridge and its endless history-in a way that opens to its connectedness to other events, other “objects”, other places.

One of the goals of telling a story by using a kind of logic of association is to tell a story that says more than what the story is not: this is not “terrorism”, this is not related to “terrorism”, says the news.

As people all over have been asking: what is the cause of the deteriorating infrastructure in the United States? I am certainly terrorized by the size-and the use- of the military “budget” (a word that usually suggests frugality, but which here-military budget- means the exorbitant wasting of resources, and the horrific, no holds barred, wasting of lives, resulting in the ability of the richest to hoard, to “frugally” hold the “spoils” of war for themselves and perhaps their progeny’s own constant astonishing heartless extravagance).

So, to tell a story or write a poem or an essay or a memoir or an elegy in a way that allows the full work of associative thinking to reveal truths, hey, that is great for writing, and that is a road to truth for making the connections we must get in order to work for, write toward, think into, dream of, a better world.

Web of deception, oh, so many are caught in it!

I’ll tell you about hair and snakes another time.

But, allow the spider webbing of your own telling and poem-ing to thrive, yes?


Anya Achtenberg

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