Who For?

…if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer.  It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself.  You don’t even know yourself.  For the first thing a writer should be is — excited.” – Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing,  (Bantam Books, CA, 1992), page 4.

For a long time this has been one of my favorite quotes.  Certainly, there are times when the writing is challenging, when I am not able to muster such zest and fun for the work that needs to be done — but when I step back and give myself a moment, I find that it is still there.  The love, the gusto.  It is there because writing is a part of my lifeblood.

I write because I have to.  Simple (and complex) as that.  It is a part of who I am.  I want to say, “It is a part of who I am, as much as breathing and eating and sleeping.”  But that’s not true.  If I stopped breathing, or eating, or sleeping, I would die.  If I stopped writing I’m sure I wouldn’t be as pleasant a person to be around (because my writing does improve my mood, I’m pretty sure).  If I stopped writing I don’t know what would happen, but I would still love to do my research, I would still want to tell people about my thoughts, and those stories would still live in my mind (I just might spend a LOT more time staring off into space).  But I wouldn’t die.  So, perhaps more honest would be to say that writing is a part of me, like reading, like dancing, like music, like good friends, laughter, and the occasional good cry.  It is something that I embrace, that enriches my being, and that I struggle to imagine what life would be like without it.

I know that, at the core of it, I write for myself.  Sometimes this is obvious, like the journals and diaries that I’ve been keeping sporadically since I was a child — I’d be mortified if anyone ever read those.  Just like some people think best when they are speaking out-loud, and others need complete silence, I find that I usually am able to best sort out my thoughts when I have a pen on the page.  It can be cathartic, it can comfort, it can stir me to action, and it can help me ask questions in new ways that provide clarity. Continue reading Who For?

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Writer Origin Story: An ode to books!

I decided to give the DPchallenge a try!

The challenge: Write your Writer Origin Story!
In my own, meandering way, that’s what I’ve done. It’s interesting how little pieces of this reflection make me think of other things I want to write.  I’m pretty sure the “Origin Story” of me as a writer is more than one entry — but this is where it starts.

I was a reader before I was a writer.  Fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by people who loved books and stories, and who were eager to share that love of the written word with me.

My parents read to us, my teachers read to me, even my grandparents — on the rare visits (they lived far away) — would read to us. Our home had bookcases, at some point my dad even built a massive set of bookcases to hold all the books we had. Books were a common, and always happily received, gift on the holidays, it seemed even the great figures of the holidays were in on the book-gifting, Santa would leave us a book outside our door on Christmas morning.

I love books, stories, and reading, and when I look back at how I was raised, I’m not sure I could have escaped such a fate. Certainly, I don’t think any of my siblings did — there are five of us, and we all still read plenty. Both sets of grandparents were readers, and my still-living grandparents still devour books and the printed word across genres.

Continue reading Writer Origin Story: An ode to books!

I must confess…

I have a confession.

Sometimes I feel like a fraud.

As I’ve been working on a bunch of different entries for this blog, mostly about creativity and writing, I keep running up against this wall.  There’s this inner voice, almost worse than that inner-editor.  The inner-critic.  The voice that says things like: “What right do you have to write about writing,”  and, “There are plenty of writers out there that have actually published something, and have actually shared their writings, that could talk about this,” and, “Aren’t there already a gazillion books about writing in the world, do you think you’re saying anything new?”

It makes me want to place my credentials out there.  To respond to that voice by proving the fact that I have actually been published, although I’ll also be the first to diminish those publishing’s by tacking on caveats to make it seem lesser than others publications.  To emphasize that while my degrees are in history, and religion, I have attended schools that put a major focus on writing.  To argue that while I have yet to complete a viable novel manuscript, I have written A LOT.  I have taken creative writing classes, and participated in fiction workshops.  For a while I had a nice little stack of rejection letters from places I had submitted my writing over the years?  But, what purpose do those arguments serve?  Other than making it clear I feel like a fraud and want to justify myself?

I struggle with this inner-critic.  But I then I step back and remind myself I never claim to be an expert (on anything, really.  Unless I’m joking).  Because I believe there is always more to learn, always more to discover, and no one can ever hold all the answers.   So when I am writing about creativity, and the writing process, I am writing about my journey, the discoveries that I’ve made along the way — and hoping that perhaps others will share their own journeys and discoveries.

Continue reading I must confess…

Feeding the Muse

One of the things that has woven through my life has been the struggle with “the muse.” There are times when the ideas are plentiful and I can hardly keep up with them, and then there are times when I’ve got nothing. Ideas vanish completely and I feel as though I am pulling my own teeth to figure what should happen next in a story, or what the next writing project should be. Even more frustrating is when a story has a clear path or a piece of work starts out solid and strong, but then begins to fade and fizzle, sputtering it’s way slowly until I eventually abandon it (sometimes for years) in a story folder on my computer.

I’ve been dealing with these fits and starts, ups and downs, for years — dare I say, decades — pretty much since I started writing. And I’ve, of course, sought out what advice I can find from other writers, how they deal with this issue, and what they have had to say, or write, about it. The terms used can vary, but there is always talk about the dreaded writers block, or about searching for the muse. And there are certainly theories that abound about how to keep the inspiration flowing, how to get through the block and, of course, the recognition that sometimes you just have to keep going, even when that block is there and the inspiration has seemed to dry up.

Continue reading Feeding the Muse

Exploring Creativity

I have had, so very many times, conversations with friends that basically boil down to: “I have no idea what they are trying to do here,” or, “[Insert Name Here] is being obstinate and refusing to do what I need them to,” or “[Insert Name Here] is not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they keep going off in this complete other direction and I’m not sure I want to follow….” No, they aren’t talking about children, or challenging friends. They are talking about fictitious characters, individuals that no one else knows.

Conversations with other writers, when talking about our work, seem to have these same threads. Or really conversations with any artists, although it is usually only writers who I find faced with a character that is refusing to cooperate in this way, those who will not move in the direction that the story is supposed to go. It is often writers that I hear talk about suddenly being faced with absolute silence from characters that previously wouldn’t shut-up. For artists who work in other mediums the reality of the challenges are somewhat different, but the general concepts are the same. There are times when our craft is wrenched out of our control and we are at the mercy of that unknown something that helps drive and inspire our art.

Continue reading Exploring Creativity

Reflections on Writing

My cousin shared this article about writers and procrastination, which of course I felt drawn to simply by the title.  

“Wait!”  I thought, “I’m a writer!  And I procrastinate!  Sure, I’ve come up with my ideas as to why, but here’s someone else talking about it… and I have this project I should be working on so… let’s see what it has to say.”  Yup.  I’m a writer, and I am an expert procrastinator.  I sometimes even procrastinate on my procrastination projects with other projects.  As a matter of fact, I could well be procrastinating right now.

Continue reading Reflections on Writing

I took this trip …

The past few months have been filled with changes.  I completed that thesis that had been swallowing all my time this winter and spring and I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Religion.  I said goodbye to the school I had attended, that had in many ways become my family, as it closed its doors after nearly 200 years of existence.  I packed up my life, after five years on the East Coast, and moved back to the West Coast to be closer to my family as I work towards further education on my career path.
Pretty Water ViewsNow, settling into my new home (and undertaking the fun process that is job-hunting), I am beginning to have a little time to start revisiting my blog – and trying to update it some more!
First up – the move.  I had promised a great many people that I would share pictures from my trip, so this seemed like a good medium to do that in!
As a gift to myself I took the train to get myself across the country – a much-needed vacation!  Technically, I took three trains – enjoying three of Amtrak’s routes on my way from Maine to Oregon.
First up – The Lake Shore Limited.  This is the train that I took from Boston to Chicago – sitting up in coach overnight (which is something I don’t think I can do again – didn’t really get much sleep).  However, I did get a chance to see some pretty country-side (which is really what this trip was all about). One of the first things that I learned was how tricky it was to take pictures from the train.

Pastoral Settings

Thank goodness for digital cameras and LOTS of batteries!

Continue reading I took this trip …

A bit of this, a bit of that, the meandering thoughts of a dreamer.

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