Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Draft essay about writing...

I don't know if it requires arrogance, stupidity or both to blog openly or even put writing out for public consumption.  Since I don't consider myself arrogant, however, I will assume I've got a certain amount of stupidity combined with some confidence, hopefulness and bravery.  Those aren't such bad qualities.

It's not that I think all my writing is a demonstration of brilliance.  But I do think my writing is thoughtful.  I rarely write about superficial things, and when I do, I make sure I preface with the disclaimer that I am free-writing.  I free-write when I don't think I have anything meaningful to say, when my brain needs de-cluttering, when I am trying to glean ideas from a mess of tumbling words or when I need to rant.  Free-writing is more of a need than anything else, and I can tell when I've neglected it.  Ideas stagnate or become stifled.  Images turn trite and phrases dull.  Poetry dries up completely and fiction dissolves into a miasma of the mundane.

Someone said recently that I must have a certain amount of confidence in my writing because I publish books.  I'd never thought about that before.  I suppose that's correct because I do hope the audience agrees that what I publish is worth reading, and in hoping, I must believe I've got some talent.  Then I say, it's not so much talent as it is hard work.  I've been writing most of my life.  I edit, sometimes extensively.  I practice.  Most of all, I ponder.  I've been told I over-think, but I believe if I didn't, I wouldn't have much to say. 

My writing requires a team: I cannot write when I neglect my spirit, my mind or my heart.  It takes all three to produce anything worthwhile if I am to have even a smattering of confidence.

How do I stay connected with my spirit?  For me, it changes, but one thing that has remained consistent is walking.  When I walk, I get inside my own head.  I consider multiple ideas, let my mind wander at will, consider new phrases and images as inspired by nature, the most loving muse around.  It's hard to do this consistently when there are no immediately accessible trails, though.  I live in true suburbia, and escaping the sound of cars and the sight of houses is trying.  The other day, I took a walk on a not-too-far away trail.  The winter had disrobed the trees, and I was disappointed to see more adjacent subdivisions and hear more sirens than when the leaves protected my sanctuary.  So different did that trail look in the winter, I thought I had taken the wrong route.

Going the wrong way only worries me when I feel my knees and hips might be resistive to a longer walk necessitated by trying to find my way back.  Given where we live, getting lost isn't really an option.  All paths leads to a road, all roads to a major road, all major roads to a highway.  If I can make it to a road, I can make it home or at least give a call to my husband and request he pick me up.  I've done this multiple times, and I am fortunate he has good humor about it.

I once went on an all-day solo hike through Manassas Battlefields and ended up a good way from home, too tired to make it back to my car.  My husband was gracious enough to save me.  Though he still teases me about it, I do not regret that day at all.  I had spent more than eight hours walking and periodically stopping to read The Red Badge of Courage, which inspired me as I completed pieces for Poems from the Battlefield.  This is what walking can do for me.

Besides my mind, my heart must be in my writing for anything worthwhile to be produced.  I want to believe in what I am writing.  I want my writing to represent my truths, my ideals, my values.  I want my writing to make people think and ultimately, to improve, which is to say, I want my writing to encourage love in myself and my readers.  Because I aim to write out of love, I have more confidence in what I produce, not because I think I am some sage, but because my good intentions back my attempts.  To hone my heart for writing, I read.  I make lists of things I am grateful for.  I collect memories and scrap books.  I pray.  And of course, I cherish my family and friends.

Writing itself is another way I get in touch with the spiritual, the deeper side of me that inherently requires the mind to process.  Pulling words together into a poem or essay or story helps me express my human experience, synthesize and communicate things that might not otherwise make sense to me.  Writing yields writing.  Writing often yields more confidence, and more confidence means I feel okay about publishing my work on blogs, in journals and in books.

So yes, confidence does sleep inside me, awakening when necessary.  Once in awhile, it needs an alarm clock, but that's okay.  That's what deadlines are for.
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