15 June, 2009

Rocks, Walls and Epiphanies

A friend of mine, a film producer, recently asked me in an e-mail what was going through my mind when I wrote “Finding Emmaus”. He said, “I meet so many people who confidently tell me that their book or play or film is going to change the world. Invariably their works are boring and pedantic. My take is that we need to tell the best story we possibly can. If, after being exposed to our work, people are inspired to make positive changes in themselves or their communities, great. But that's a happy by-product. Story matters above all.”

People who know me now but did not know me just a few years back may be surprised by this but, prior to this huge ‘epiphany’ of mine nearly two years ago, I was about as unemotional a person as one could get. I didn’t cry at tear-jerker movies and I CERTAINLY never cried in front of anyone - ever. I used to be envious of my friends who COULD cry on their way out of the movie theater, friends who could then tearfully, joyfully, tell the people waiting in line what a wonderful film it was and how much they’d enjoy it.

These same high school friends, and then, later on, my co-workers, firmly believed I was hard as a rock and twice as strong and everyone loved to lean on me ‘cause I never shed a tear. I was the one to go to. I was Wonder Woman, Underdog and The Rock of Gibraltar all rolled into one. I resented, BTW, that everyone automatically assumed I was so strong that I never needed arms around me, but I kept my mouth shut because I was like that.

I clearly recall a time in my late 20’s when an incredulous friend said, “…YOU need help? But Pamela, you’re so strong. It never occurred to me you’d be weak.” One of those memories which pops up occasionally in living color and brings with it anger and resentment in waves.

I was NOT a rock, I was behind a wall. But I had no idea and neither, apparently, did anyone else…

Something changed one day - August 8th 2007 - and I don’t know why. I can remember the exact moment, where I was, what I was doing, and the photograph I was staring at which is now indelibly etched into my brain as the foundation - and the starting point - of this “Dream Quest” I’m on, this path of mine which I am now certain ‘has a heart’ (thank you Don Juan and Carlos Casteneda!).

From that moment on, I've become a different human being. At first, and for a long time thereafter, I thought I was losing my mind. ALL I could do was cry - over anything. A GE commercial could reduce me to a quivering bowl of Jell-O. I still cry easily, but at least now I’m not afraid it’s a sign of impending insanity.

That said, I can now answer Burt’s question.

The only thing on my mind when I created the town and the people of Duncaster / Weavers Bridge, CT, and then the story and then the book “Finding Emmaus” was an almost frenzied need to write it with everything I had in me.

That’s all I knew: just tell the story.

And the way I knew I had written a phrase or a sentence or a paragraph or a chapter just right, the way I knew I had ‘nailed it’, was my emotional response to it as I wrote. If I didn’t cry, I put what I had written aside and started again. And I’m not just talking about the sad or emotional parts of the story - I mean EVERYTHING. If it didn’t touch my heart, even if was only a paragraph to describe how the early Puritans identified which plants they could use to dye their cloth blue, it got rewritten.

I didn’t write “Finding Emmaus” to be famous or change the world or to impress anyone. I wrote it because I HAD to. Seven hundred and fifty pages came pouring out of a part of me I did not know existed and still have yet to locate.

Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved


  1. Pamela, you describe so well, the journey of authenticity. Our ability to know and be who we are, and allowing others to see that. I can't wait to read your book. I know the feeling of having something creative explode out in the form of paint and hope that it touches anothers soul.

  2. I find myself identifying with you on multiple levels. I know what it's like to be the wall only to find that you're wrong and it only surrounds you.

    This said, I do look forward to 'crying' with you as I read your journey into authorhood. =)

  3. Well Pamela....you have crossed over to the LIGHT side....never to return to the pedantic. As one of the few people who have actually met you, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that your emotions are indeed in check :-) — and that you are well aware of the need for writers to WRITE...and to share your thoughts with the world.

    As you continue to do so...it will all unfold....


  4. Pamela, I love your writing. It's so clear and lyrical. And the post itself is good. Thanks for sharing--it touched me.