A Northwest Based Literary Journal

A Writer’s Return from Despair, by Devon Ronner

I began writing “Numerous as the Stars” when I was in despair about myself as a writer. The story didn’t have a name then. Or an ending. Or even an idea to drive where it would go. It emerged in response to a great longing in me, some might say a prayer, while at a writing workshop led by a wonderful writer and teacher, Barbara Turner-Vesselago. Her approach of Freefall Writing had called the writer in me back into the world after a thirty-three year hiatus. But after sending out stories and receiving nothing but rejections, I was doubting myself deeply and felt my creativity had dried up.

The morning the story came into being in that workshop started with the memory of my early days of writing and a yearning, as expressed that day, “…for those moments, at first unexpected and unsought, now longed for, when that puny ‘I’ disappears and time disappears and place disappears, and the very act of writing becomes a breath and pulse and heartbeat breathed inside a vaster breath, condensing into language that is a doorway and a homecoming.”

I went on to wonder if “Perhaps, like baby girls, with their tiny purse of ovaries and finite quantity of eggs, we enter this life with a predetermined allotment of meaningful words and things to say and I have used mine up. I am entering a menopause of language, when I so long for a new voice. A strong voice with the clapper of truth chiming.”

The sentence that immediately followed that call for a new voice became the opening to “Numerous as the Stars”: “A sheer layer of frost covered everything in the garden….” and the story virtually poured out of me. From that frozen place inside myself I was delivered of a voice I had never before used. Faygie’s voice. The voice of a strong woman rich in imagination, from another era, another landscape, full of wisdom, but bound by tradition, wry, cunning and generous, who, in spite of self-doubt and uncertainty, opened herself to the mystery of life and took extraordinary action. Out of her despair came a new kind of strength. Looking back, I realize that story was a turning point for me and I now recognize my own process as a writer, mirrored in Faygie’s experience. Much as Faygie listened to the ‘crazy’ voice inside herself and discovered fierce, untamed forces, she reminded me of the unexpected places that can be summoned when I have the courage to go anywhere, without a map or vision, putting down one word after another. I am so grateful to having found the Freefall Writing approach; it has helped me learn to honor my process as a writer—even when it’s in the depths of disbelief in myself—and to keep writing.  “Numerous as the Stars” was born of that experience.

Editor’s note: “Numerous as the Stars” appears in the volume 2, number 2 of Tahoma Literary Review, to be released August 1.

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