What Lives in the Lacunae: Breakthrough Tip for 8/22/2020

Lacuna: noun (pl. lacunae |-nī, -nē| or lacunas): an unfilled space or interval; a gap: the journal has filled a lacuna in Middle Eastern studies.

a missing portion in a book or manuscript.    — New Oxford American Dictionary

Lacuna: Exploring the etymology of lacuna involves taking a plunge into the pit – or maybe a leap into the “lacus” (that’s the Latin word for “lake”). Latin speakers modified “lacus” into “lacuna,” and used it to mean “pit,” “cleft,” or “pool.” English speakers borrowed the term in the 17th century. Another English word that traces its origin to “lacuna” is “lagoon,” which came to us by way of Italian and French.   — Merriam Webster Dictionary

I lived too many years terrified of the lacunae: time free from endless chores and appointments; the absence of a partner, a lover, a mate; my home with only me in it; the abyss when the chatter in my mind stopped and I teetered on the edge of what I believed was insanity. I filled every conscious moment of my life with something, anything – with dither.

If you work with me as your mentor or editor, you have become familiar with my ferocity about dither, i.e. Amy threw back her long, curling, shiny ebony hair;  took a sip from her hand-blown scarlet goblet of (insert name of expensive trendy wine); and studied the Georgio Armani receipt with her Hermes magnIfying glass. Mentor’s comment: Aaaarrrrgggghhh. Dither!!!! Try this: Amy sipped her wine and looked closely at the receipt.

Many writers learn that the work lies in the details. It also lies in the absence of dither. I took years to understand that whenever I dithered, it was because I didn’t trust the reader. Perhaps more accurately, I didn’t trust the lacunae. I hadn’t practiced long enough to know that the best writing invites the reader into the lagoon. To dive deep. To drown. To surface filled with delight, with terror, with story. To surface transformed.
Your turn. 1. Write two paragraphs filled with dither.  2. Cut the word count by half. 3. Send both versions in a Word Doc to me at bstarr67@gmail.com  Let me know if I can post them in next week’s BTW.

I dare you.






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