From My Bookshelf — Day 66
One of my dearest friends began her last novel—one that went on to become a prizewinning best-seller—by telling herself that she was going to write a short, bad book. For a long time, she talked about the short, bad book she was writing. And she believed it. It released her from her fear of failure. It’s a beautiful strategy. Anyone can write a short, bad book, right?
There is no magical place of arrival. There is only the solitary self facing the page.
But when we give ourselves permission, we move past this. The world once again reveals itself to us. We become open and aware, patient and ready to receive it. We don’t ask why that particular slant of sunlight, snippet of dialogue, old couple walking along the road hand-in-hand seems to evoke an entire world. We give ourselves permission because we are the only ones who can do so. There’s a great expression in Twelve Step programs: Act as if. Act as if you’re a writer. Sit down and begin. Act as if you might just create something beautiful, and by beautiful I mean something authentic and universal. Don’t wait for anybody to tell you it’s okay. Take that shimmer and show us our humanity. That’s your job.
So much can be accomplished in one focused hour, especially when that hour is part of a routine, a sacred rhythm that becomes part of your daily life.
Let go of every should or shouldn’t running through your mind when you start. Be willing to stand at the base of a new mountain, and with humility and grace, bow to it. Allow yourself to understand that it’s bigger than you, or anything you can possibly imagine. You’re not sure of the path. You’re not even sure where the next step will take you. When you begin, whisper to yourself: I don’t know.
Dani Shapiro — Still Writing (pp. 18-52)
Writing and Life have more similarities than one could possibly insert into a blog. We set out to write something moving and beautiful much the same way we set out to make our lives meaningful and worthwhile. Oftentimes, we have no idea where to start, where we’re going, or what our overarching purpose should be. Our direction is lacking and our confidence is shaky at best. We stare at a blank page similar to staring into our unknown future.
Here’s where we miss the point. . . .
There is no WRONG story to tell. By putting our pen to paper we are changing the course of history—our own personal history and the history of civilization as we know it—one word at a time. There is a phenomenal mysterious power in the act of writing.
How many times have you read something and realized you thought the EXACT SAME THING but you couldn’t put it into words before then? Writing gives us the sense that we are all connected and we are all part of the same story.
The beauty—and limiting factor—of writing is we have to use words to describe the indescribable. Somehow, some way, we put words in a particular order and we convey a meaning that gets transported into the mind of another being who understands the meaning we are attempting to relay.
Our writing can—and does—change the world!
Just as we stare nervously at the blank page, we also tremble at the knees when we think of the totality of our lives being played out on life’s stage. We lack real direction. We have no real control over our lives. Often, we have to take it on the chin and keep coming back for more. That’s life and that’s part of having this human experience.
In counseling, one of the things we talk about is the “presenting problem” which is the thing that brings the client into the counselor’s office in the first place. Interestingly, the presenting problem is RARELY the thing that gets talked about and dealt with and worked through. Normally what brings the client into counseling is only the springboard to get the client talking about what is really bothering them.
Writing is much the same way. When we first put the pen to paper, or start pecking keys on the keyboard, we assume we are taking our writing in a specific direction. But before we know it, we’re writing about something totally different than we started writing about in the first place. The mystery is we really aren’t in control of what we create. Some people suggest that IDEAS take over and the idea is what guides our thoughts and lives. The ideas lead us to our next word, our next purchase, our next decision, our next routine. The ideas take hold of our conscious and we simply go along for the ride and watch our stories—and our lives—unfold.
Writing changes your life!
In order to write a good story, you have to create good characters. In order to create a good life, you have to be a character willing to be shaped and molded by the storms of life. Trees don’t stretch their roots deeper into the ground during sunny days.
Is it possible writing about your life could springboard you past anything you could imagine?
Is it possible your stringing words together could be the catalyst that changes your life, changes other’s lives, and changes the course of history as we know it?
Is it possible the answers you seek are found in the ink that flows from the tip of your pen?
Start with I Don’t Know. Bow down to the unknown and let the ideas live and flow through you. The pressure is not on you to create a great story—or to create a great life. The only pressure is simply get out of your own way and let the story write itself.
Have a blessed day.
Peace and Love,