eglantine_br (eglantine_br) wrote,

Hugging some coast

It used to be universal advice to 'write what you know.' If you carry it too far you have nothing. The advice supposes that stories must hug the coast, too frail to strike forth for the blue water of unknown worlds and lives.

I am a female, English speaking, post moon landing, USA, person. There is much worthy stuff written about such people. But it is not what I feel moved to write. Too close to me, maybe. Lee shore there I think. Hugging the coast can be dangerous.

Most of the bodies and lives I write about seem to be male. I have always figured, if offered the chance I would like to try living in a male body for a day tops, just to see what it would be like. I am quite sure I would like my own back again after that. (Though maybe I could have it back at age 25?) I would like to try being a dog too, or a bird.

(I have written a little as a dog-- never a bird.)

But I know how it feels to run, to breathe deep, to be afraid, or proud, or in love. It seems to work to assume those feel the same.

Writing of the past is like that too. I found myself today writing about how it feels to return home, once you have grown up and moved out-- the way things seem smaller, the way that memory pounces, the way that parents seem older, the way everything smells the same, sounds the same, and you know it although the sounds and smells passed unnoticed before. I cannot imagine it felt any  different, 400 years back, to suddenly see that your parents have aged.

Shakespeare wrote about old age and the obligations of family. Indeed, he was pretty obsessed with it.

Marlowe never went there much.There is Abigail in 'The Jew of Malta.' She is a dutiful little girl who does what she is told. She is a plot device. She doesn't feel real. Some people say it is because he couldn't write women. (Perhaps, they say, because Marlowe was gay, kind of like how Michelangelo drew men and stuck boobs on them.) I don't think it is that. He could depict women just fine . He just wasn't interested in little Abigail. He did not live long enough to want to write about families.

Again and again I wonder what we would have had if he had lived.For that matter, if all those young men had not died in the 1590s. Watson, Nashe, Kyd, Marlowe, Greene... It would have been interesting to see what came of them.
Tags: writing about writing instead of writing

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