Thursday, June 29, 2006

Spend it all

"One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water." --Annie Dillard

Sometimes I'm tempted to save a glorious anecdote or an intriguing workshop prompt for another column or another class--for a day when my deadline looms large or I'm short on ideas.

No more! Use it all. There is more where this came from--always.

Share what you have with other writers, teachers, students, friends.
Remember: All boats rise with the tide.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

And the day came

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside
the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~Anais Nin

All around me people are splitting into bloom--opening the way tight-layered peonies swell into soft pink balls.

One woman I work with has fallen madly in love since we last met--she's still finding time for her writing and feels grounded by her words. And she is learning that writing the truth, bold honesty on the page, liberates her from her past. She didn't arrive at the stoop with her ratty old satchel full of "poor me" letters she needs to read alound immediately so that her new love will have no choice but to get up-close-and-personal with her wounds. "I don't need to drag all that old crap into this relationship," she said, her clear blue eyes looking straight into mine.

Another client has started writing about her addictive realtionship that ended recently. Through her pages and pages of detailed truth-telling and recounting, she's seeing deeper and deeper into addiction and uncovering all sorts of gems, "diamonds in the dust heap," as Virginia Woolf says.

Author Louise DeSalvo believes and has witnessed that writers heal when they make: "detailed accounts of the traumatic events in their lives, linking feelings with happenings. The more writing succeeds as narrative (by being detailed, organized, compelling, vivid and lucid), the more benefits will be derived."

Too bad about the passive voice Louise but the thoughts are right on. I'm always blabbing about the importance of details, vivid verbs, and strong feeling. Write about what matters. DeSalvo continues: "Writing in this way seems to discharge complex pent-up feeings, providing a catharsis. But it also permits refelction upon the event's significance so that insight and wisdom are attained."

Passive voice again but still true. A third client has carved out writing time she didn't know she had. She loves to write--she talks about the process the way folks describe the rushes and highs of intense exercise or yoga.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

If I own a cow . . .

the cow owns me.

Anna told us this proverb at out visual journal gathering this morning, at Foster's. I wrote it in my journal. I love it. What does the proverb mean? Write about it.

A bunch of us had met to drink coffee and share our journals--what we hve created in our visual journals since the course Linda and I taught in April.

We talked about "second thoughts," going back over what's there on the page and writing more--details about, say, where I was going when I stopped to draw those horses out in that field.

Linda and Anna had both covered over pages they didn't like--Linda with paper you could lift up and see the original under: the Paul Taylor dancers she had sketched at a concert on a yellow wash she hated. Anna had pasted paper over original pages she didn't want to see again.

At our get-together, I wrote more about the poem we had cut up and responded to: "The Art of Disappearing," by Naomi Shihab Nye.

We discussed adding envelopes, layers, language. We talked about how the journal can be an organic, dynamic book that changes and grows as we do--and how we learn by going back over what we've written and created.

Now, back to the cow--and writing in my journal.