LaLaLaLaLa–Finding Your Voice

As a budding writer, how do you find your “true voice”?  Painters ask this same question when they cry in dismay “How do I find my style?”  The truth for writers (and any artist) is that a) it’s always there and b) practice.

When I’m in conversation with someone, if there is a degree of familiarity, I hear their “true voice” readily.  There is no need to hide when we feel comfortable with disclosing ourselves to someone.  We shield ourselves when we don’t feel familiar or safe.  We make “small talk”.

How do  you recognize your writer’s voice–it tells the truth.  Think of it more as “Finding Your Perspective” or your “Point of View.”   Take global warming as an example.  What is your perspective on this?  Is it a reality or something that some scheming political party or corporate interest has made up?  If you follow that thread, as if in conversation with someone, what would you say?  How would you say it?  What you say and your tone are reflections of your writer’s voice.

For instance, if I were of the belief that global warming is a hoax.  I might expound on how we are being duped into believing this for certain profit-making organizations or corporate interests?  If I feel passionate about this, then my ire could rise and that would come through in my writing also.  Though I’d look for “facts” to back up this perspective and insinuate them in my writing, it would still be my perspective and expressed in my own distinct way.  How convincing could you be if you wrote from a place that is opposite to what you believe?  How in touch with your true writer’s voice would you be?  I’m guessing a good, practiced fiction writer could do this. If that is your genre, then it’s another story altogether.  However, even a good fiction writer has an overall style that can be recognizable to her/his readers.

Writing Tip

Several years ago, I purchased a hand-held mini recorder.  For me, it was handier than a notebook when I was either driving or out hiking on a trail.  I could instantly record a passing thought, a whole poem or ideas for future writings.  When I replay the recording, I hear “my true voice”.  When you write, when you record your voice, compare to see if you write as  you speak.

A poem by Pablo Neruda

“All paths lead to the same goal
to convey to others what we are.
And we must pass through solitude
and difficulty, isolation and silence
in order to reach forth to
the enchanted place
where we can dance
our clumsy dance
sing our lonesome song
but in this dance or in this song
there are fulfilled the most ancient rite
of our conscience
in the awareness of being human
and of believing in a common destiny.”

Writing Prompt
Begin with the line “What I most want to convey to others is…” and write extemporaneously for a period of time that you decide.  Read aloud what you wrote.  If you have a recorder, record yourself reading this aloud.  Are you surprised by anything that you wrote?  How do you sound to yourself when you play back the recording (if you made one)?

 

A World in Peril

Writing Prompt

In my last blog, I invited you to make a list of things that you want to write about.  Then to whittle it down to the things that inspire you.  Finally, to put a letter “P” by the things that you feel passionate about.
For this writing prompt, choose something from your “P” list and write about it until you feel you’ve exhausted the subject (or yourself) for the moment.  Let this be a sort of free-write on something that you feel passionate about–no editing–save the editing for much later.
Though you may not have statistics or facts on the subject that you are writing about, it’s a good idea to let your emotional response to your topic be the motivator at first.  Later on, if you choose, if this is going to be something for publication, you can go back and begin to do research, edit, arrange and craft your piece.
Enjoy the journey.

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The image of the woman looking upwards is a piece I painted a few weeks ago.  I have been tossing around the idea “WHY MAKE ART IN A WORLD IN PERIL?”  It seems that other artists ask this same question.  We each have our various answers.  I put my answer in poetic form.

Why make art in a world in peril?
How do I justify this use of my time?
There lives in me something so feral
an inner urge that bursts into rhyme.
It’s certain death to quash this rumbling urge
poetry and paint relieve the seismic stress.
Witness your own ebb and flow and then the surge
for every voice has its resounding YES!
We each have our own inner witness
the one who applauds and sends you center stage.
Yes, that someone who won’t accept less–
it seems more imperative as I age.
Take your pen, your brush, your art-making tool
and in the name of your life, risk being the fool.

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Writing TIp & Prompt

As a writer or wannabee writer, it’s a good idea to take a few moments to answer these two questions in your journal:

  1. Why do you feel called to write?
  2.  Why now?

Take at least ten minutes to write your response to each question.  Allow the answers to arise from a deep within place.

Afterwards, reread your answers to see if this feels true.  If you feel the need to elaborate or get more clarity, write some more.  Breathe into your present truth about why  you feel called to write now.

Allow what you’ve written to follow you through the day.  Carry a little pocket-sized notebook and jot down anything that comes to mind on this topic (or anything else that wants to be noted).

 

 

Let ‘er Rip

I don’t know who first coined the phrase free-writing.  I do know that author Natalie Goldberg talks about it in her chapter, FIRST THOUGHTS, in her book WRITING DOWN THE BONES.  And I also know that author Julia Cameron discourses on it in her famed book, THE ARTIST’S WAY.  She calls this type of writing MORNING PAGES.  Julia advocates for thirty minutes or three pages daily as I recall.  Believe me, it goes quickly.

Basically, it is a way to clear the writing channels to make yourself available to what wants to be said.  There are times I want to write and yet I feel blocked by something.  I can’t name it, but it’s in the way of my writing.  Free-writing is a sort of “brain-dump” on the page.  The hand keeps on moving, there is no particular goal or thought process behind it.  It is an emptying out.  No editing–yay!  No judging–double yay!  No crafting or having to go anywhere in particular with it.  Consider it a verbal cleanse.

It is also a way to access some juicy material.  You never know what is going to come through you and what might become a future writing prompt for you.  It is, for me, a way of daily journaling.

Below is an example of my MORNING PAGES.

Over the past two days, I’ve had two construction men working on my tiny cottage. There were glitches, several, along the way.  Lifting the threadbare carpet, they exposed a dry rot floor in the back room.  I was having a sliding glass door installed back there. They had ordered and delivered the wrong-sized sliding glass door (it took six weeks to get this door).  Then a portion of the door was mismatched…they had the correct match at the nearby shop.  Rain on the second day of installation and they weren’t going to work…it was a light rain.  I lied, saying I had company coming in the hopes that they’d take down the plywood they’d used to seal up the back room overnight.  Please put the door in today, I nearly pleaded.  Otherwise, because of their overbooked schedule they wouldn’t return for another week! I had already spent one night away from home as I couldn’t cope with the chaos they left behind.

They installed the sliding glass door in a light rain.  Phew…that made it more tolerable until they could get to the next leg of this unsteady journey.  Home is the center for me, internal and external.  It is of great importance to me to have this home functional and orderly and fully occupied by me.  To have some flow and beauty.  I am disoriented by their large presences and for me, discordant energies.  I am so grateful that they worked yesterday in the light drizzle and at least got to this level though not complete.

So far, things that I’ve learned from this process.

  1. Perhaps it isn’t good to begin something with Mercury in retrograde.
  2. When I order something,  write down what I want and keep a copy for myself and hand them a copy to attach to their copy of the order.  Repeat what I want, have them repeat it back to me.  Have them explain the order form and the meaning of the numbers that they’ve scribbled down on the order.
  3. Realize how I’m affected when I have someone working in my house.

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Anyway, that’s a sample of my morning pages.  A bit of a rant and no need for continuity. That out of my system, I’ve cleared the way for what I want to do next whether it is writing or some other task.

Writing Prompt

Give the free-writing a try.  Follow Natalie Goldberg’s or Julia Cameron’s suggestions.  Or just begin–write for however long without a pause and without judgment.  Notice how you feel afterwards.  Reread what you wrote.  Is there anything in there that might be a juicy topic for you to explore more deeply?

Have a lovely day.

 

 

 

So I’m Wondering…

Do I really want to write a blog on how to write?  Is that my heart’s desire?  Today, the answer is NO!  I want to write about what is on my mind in these very important times.

If I were your writing instructor, I would say to you to write about what you feel passionate about!  What pumps you up, gets you excited and/or rouses your curiosity or your ire?  That is what I would encourage you to write about.  Therefore, I’m going to offer this to myself.

I am a woman with many interests and curiosities.  One concern is for this planet earth, this place I call home.  I consider how someone could think they have a right to walk into my house, eat all of my food, pollute my water and leave trash everywhere.  Isn’t earth that home for all of us?  Don’t these same “rules” apply in regards to our hospitable planet earth?  I think so and it’s obvious that many in power don’t see it this way.  To them, earth is to be used until it’s all used up, exhausted of resources and unable to replenish itself. Hmmm.

I once wrote an essay entitled “It All Starts with Food.”  The bottom line of it is that women really do have more power than they claim.  Women are typically (in the USA anyway) the shoppers.  How I spend my money, what I put in my shopping cart determines what is on the supermarket shelves.  It appears to be upside down–that is what is on the shelves determines what I eat.  Consider that around ninety percent of the items on the shelves in the supermarket are not real food.  They are packaged, processed, infused with chemicals, hormones, antibiotics.  Honestly, our bodies aren’t mean to digest these unnatural additives.  Yet, we trust advertised products over our own wisdom.

Once, my five-year old grandson was staring at a long aisle of candy at the grocery store.  I said, “That’s not real food.”  His eyes got wider and I could hear the doubt in his voice as he replied “Yes, it is.”  Later on that day, i asked him to help me pick chamomile flowers in the backyard and then we brewed tea together.  This became a meaningful experience for both of us.

When I place food on the table for my family and friends, I feel good that the food I serve is fresh, is locally grown in the summer and fall,  and prepared consciously.  After a dinner one evening, my son-in-law thanked me for a meal that left him feeling good. There is a feeling of vibrancy and health when we eat “real” food.

Alright, I gave you a tiny glimpse of how I feel about our relationship to the earth and women’s power in choosing healthy food.

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Writing Prompt
Take five minutes to list the things that you frequently write about.  Or list things that you think you’d like to write about.
Do you feel inspired by any of the topics on your list?  If so highlight them.
Review the things that inspire you.  Do you feel passionate about any of these?
If so, take a bright marking pen and put a capital letter “P” beside what you feel passionate about.

(Note that passion can sometimes feel like anger when we are writing about injustices or inequities.  Don’t let the big feelings scare you.  They only want to be noticed and embraced.)

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By the way, have you guessed what the Dame Ragnelle told King Arthur in answer to the question “What do women most desire?”  Before I ever heard of this legend, I could have told you the answer from my own questing.  What I most wanted, what the Dame Ragnelle recognized and named, is SOVEREIGNTY.  A woman desires the power to make the decisions that govern her own life.  I wanted freedom of choice and to have this sovereignty respected by others personally, culturally and politically.  It is my belief that women across the word deeply desire this.  In fact, I believe that there is a culture of women which supersedes the boundaries delineated by race, creed, color, religion.   When we step outside these man-made boundaries, we recognize our common goals, challenges and dreams.

Peace to you..enjoy this day.

 

The Girl I was…

“The Girl I was once knew it all
the rising tides and nation’s fall
how to achieve peace on earth
the value of a woman’s worth…”  
And then I forgot.

Afraid to Lose You
Long lonely nights waiting for you to come home
from a night out.
Listening for the sound of your truck
in the driveway.
Worrying that you drank too much–again.
Praying you would make it home
safely.
Unable to express my anger
because
if I curse you,
tell you how your behavior
is hurting our family,
I might lose you.

I was under a spell cast by the society I grew up in.  It said that a woman’s highest role was to be a good wife–satisfy her mate, care for his needs, make him happy, help him to achieve his goals in life.  I would find my fulfillment in that.  Structured within this belief system was the notion that my own self-actualization was not a valid desire.

WRITING PROMPT
Have you ever had a sense of being under a spell?
If so, what helps you to awaken?
Write for ten minutes without censoring  yourself.
This way of writing has been termed “free-writing”.

Following is my paraphrase of an old myth involving King Arthur, Sir Gawain & Dame Ragnelle:

King Arthur is given a life-threatening challenge by the mystical knight, Sir Gromer Somer Joure–“FIND OUT WHAT WOMEN MOST DESIRE AND RETURN HERE IN ONE YEAR WITH THE ANSWER” OR ELSE!  King Arthur enlists the help of his nephew and trusted knight, Sir Gawain.  Separately, they roam the countryside seeking the true answer.  As the year is nearly up, they compare their notes and realize that they are no closer to an answer.  The despairing King rides off into the forest seeking inspiration of some sort.  This is precisely when the unattractive old crone, the Dame Ragnelle, appears to the King and offers him a solution.  In exchange for the true answer, she asks for the hand of Sir Gawain in marriage.  Sir Gawain accepts the proposal to save his uncle’s life. As it turns out, the Dame Ragnelle has been under a spell herself.  When Sir Gawain respectfully and tenderly takes her to the marriage bed, she transforms into her true and beautiful self.  Another enchantment broken by the power of love.  With all of this, can you guess what answer Dame Ragnelle gave to the King?

WRITING PROMPT
What would your answer to this question be?  Free-write for ten minutes.

(Dame Ragnelle’s answer
is forthcoming in the next blog.)

 

For now, here are a few WRITING TIPS for  you.

To begin this journey, you will need a journal or writing pad, a comfortable-to-grip pen,
clothing that does not bind, a good chair and sufficient lighting.  Decide what else you need to create your space for writing.  Could it be a favorite lamp, a flower in a vase, a candle, a centering stone, a feather, a seashell or a card from an inspirational deck?  It would be helpful if you had a timer for timed writings.