Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Write From That Precise Place. Day 7

Two things can stop me from getting some writing done on a given day. Deciding what to write about, and then letting the first draft free flow from my right brain writer MINUS the cartload of censoring critics and organizing committees from my left brain writer/editor.  Both are needful but not at the starting gate.

As I stood at the brink of this memoir writing experience in Lisa Dale Norton's class, these two things show their faces...yet again.  Because, it is not from a lack of ideas, but from too many choices where I get stymied. And when I try to make a decision, then the other voices chime in with their opinions, and being a diplomat at heart, I see their point and think, well now that's a good idea too.

But this time, as I do have a deadline, I do have an instructor and classmates waiting for my input, plus I did put good money into this class, I knew I needed to push through. And decide.  Quick like a bunny, as my mom used to tell us.

Author and friend of writers Julia Cameron comes to the rescue with this quote: "Make art from the precise place we find ourselves." from Letters to a Young Artist, p. 11

Wherever we are as a person right now. (Mmm... Lisa just told us something similar...confirmation.) Whatever the mood, situation or memory trying to pull at our sleeve for attention. Whether I'm bored, tired, moody, sore, agitated, gleeful, or sad, write from that place! Just where I am right now...physically, emotionally and mentally.  So I don't have to work up a muse or inspiration.  Just be honest and write where I am right now. Okay, I can do that.

A second point Julia makes from her own experience,  "Give me something to write and I can always write it -- unless I'm trying to write it well. It's the 'well' that freezes an artist up." ibid, p. 12

In the first drafts, writing it 'well' is a killer. I know that for sure. But I am making great strides in forgetting the notion that it'll come out polished and well the first time. (Where on earth did we get such a notion in the first place?)

The essence, yes, may be there, or it may take a few 'first' drafts to sort out the piffle and get to what I really want to say.  Diamonds need mining, cutting, polishing. People rarely want them in their raw state. And readers are mind miners, they like their books crafted and honed and polished too. They value a diamond by its cut, colour, clarity. So too with readers, they look for the sparkle as light refracts across the pages.  So let's put on our miner's hat and start digging for the diamond we want to write.  And it will take time to perfect. That's okay, I can do this.

So we need I need to remember that these first few days of my memoir writing exercise needs to be free flow time, to let the imagery come up from my heart, emotions, and trigger spots. Just write it down as it comes. Typos and all.  It's easier to fix or change something when it's already there than to fiddle, fiddle, fiddle with the first sentence or paragraph and never get any further. Yes, I can do this too.

Another thing that seems to help me: If I can't get to the crux of where I want to begin and head towards, I look for a listening ear (or friendly email inbox) where I can just spill the beans in a relaxed way, as if I'm sharing a breezy chat over a coffee. Just explain it... no fancy words, no trying to be literary. It relaxes me and then I can go write that down. Often, the essence gets clearer. Rambling bits in between or not.

Guess it comes down to the two words, Just write. And trust it will come together. Okay, I can do that.

This is my new life and I'm writing to find the right words.

(c) Brenda Leyland, 2013


  1. Beautiful affirmations of the writing life.

  2. Wow, Brenda - this is JUST what I needed to hear today. Can you come to my inbox every day and do this? Oh wait - you are. Yippee! Thanks for sharing these musings of yours. I may not comment each day, but be assured that I (and probably many others) are reading, marking and inwardly digesting as you share what you are learning about writing.


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