"I had spent so much of my childhood exiled to a metaphoric island of my imagination —
with all the icons, masks, dreams, imagery, deities that such a place could contain.
Now there was no question in my mind that the mythological "hero's journey" represented my life.
If these mythic tales were truly universal, perhaps reading them from a personal perspective
would offer not only insight, but also guidance — direction — like a road map to what I was experiencing.

Self-discovery was a seductive concept to one who had never felt a sense of self in the first place."


ABOUT AN AMBER HEART

I have something in common with trees. With each passing year, my life bears a ring of experiences — a layer of actions and emotions not necessarily visible from the outside. To see this map of my evolution requires an inward view.

Nearly 25 years ago, I received an exercise that was originally meant to remove writer's block. Writing only one page a day, using my opposite hand, I was to pull a title out of the air — and begin. Once a page was completed, I wasn't to look at it again. Consequently, each page was written fresh the next day without benefit of what had already been logged. The title came effortlessly; words waiting in the wings. For my subject, I chose to write about a simple object, and the seemingly simple way I'd acquired it. At first, this exercise resulted in a very long day. In extreme fashion, I'd either write very quickly first thing in the morning, or resist sitting down to my one page until late at night. Nevertheless, I managed to produce a page a day. So began my curious relationship to An Amber Heart.

One morning, another title occurred to me. I began writing an additional page-a-day on an entirely different piece — a light-hearted teleplay based on mythological themes. The humorous nature of the teleplay provided a kind of "comic relief" from the more intense writing of An Amber Heart. Now writing in tandem, from two opposite points of view, my two projects began to grow. The page-a-day expanded to five pages. Five pages expanded to ten. The passion for writing returned to me. And the unfolding story of An Amber Heart — like magic words appearing before me — completely captured my attention. Subtle, suspenseful — the writing surprised me, drew me in. It began in a third-person narrative, then changed to first-person. Little did I know that my "block" consisted of layers of judgments, attachments to old wounds, and a bank of unresolved feelings that, over the years, like the rings of a tree, I had allowed to grow around and close off access to my heart.

It is an unusual read — not a typical memoir-style of writing — and shaped with parts instead of chapters. The story "unfolds" in a series of contemplations that were formed one evening while I was watching a sunset in my front yard overlooking the Big Sur coastline.

 

 ABOUT SUSAN TOSSMAN BLUE

Although a California-based writer for over three decades, Blue maintains an abiding affection for her midwestern roots. A native hoosier, she has, since early childhood, pursued a passion for writing — particularly playwriting. As the partner of a Los Angeles-based multi-media/production company, the scope of her work has touched literature, theatre, television, music, radio, and film. She enjoys all forms of creative production — writing, directing, editing, audio recording, graphic design, and more. She is presently at work on a sequel to AN AMBER HEART.

(Photograph - Michael Lally)

AN AMBER HEART
The "Baptism" Scene
A Reading From the Work-In-Progress
September 14, 1997
With Host/Poet John Dotson at the Henry Miller Library, Big Sur, CA

By Susan Tossman Blue
Original music composed/performed by Mark Tossman