Speak

A doodle in a journal becomes a message to oneself.

Not fancy.  Not elaborate and not necessarily meant for anyone else’s eyes.

Yet, here we are in a time when many of us haven’t spoken up.

Sheltering in place, we are taken out of society, given this time for reflection.  Contemplation.

Where are we going to go from here?

How are we going to do things differently, with more consciousness?

We see the effects, for instance, of global warming across the planet.
What are you and I going to do differently to preserve the planet for
the future generations?

How helpless are we feeling?

What are the topics of discussion that we want to air?

Instead of zoning out in front of a tv screen, what is it that is important to you, today?

What do you want to talk about that you haven’t given voice to yet?

What do you deeply know to be true that is different from all the belief structures that your society, culture has overwhelmed you with?

What needs to change?

SPEAK about it.

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We see the Himalayas.  The air is clear in areas where it’s been polluted for years.  Nature is in the forefront of our vision right now…especially as we experience spring in the northern hemisphere.

It seems that which we have put in the background, at the bottom of the list, is thrusting itself in front of manmade institutions and systems and saying

REMEMBER ME! I’M HERE!  I’M YOUR MOTHER!

Lost at Sea

When I painted this piece in my journal, I was feeling adrift.  So much was out of my hands in regards to the well-being of those I love.

I wrote:

I cannot pretend anything–neither false affection nor that I am practicing a devotion except for this writing and this painting.

Rain today, rain tomorrow.  They’ve colored the sky gray.  The optimism of our generation is deflated.  We wanted to hold up banners of “BRAVA!”  But we are too wise to think that things could be different, better.  We are humans, only humans.  Only that…is that true?  or only an excuse?  We are each the chosen one.  The nadis–weave them all together–then, there’s a wholeness.  In our disconnect, we are adrift in our own limited consciousness.  Out at sea, each in his/her own skincraft.  Aren’t we always looking for a friendly shore upon which to land.  A welcome home sign, a cry of recognition–

“Yay, you’re here.”

 

lostatsea

mining the journals

so it has been said that… “90% of the iceberg sits below the water.”

I do think that a good portion of who we are is sitting below the surface, unexamined.  A journal is an opportunity to put your toe into the deep water…a place to explore yourself and to write freely, so long as you feel safe…that no one is going to discover your journal and share it with “the world.”

Do I intend that my journal be shared?  Sometimes?  Or never?  Within its pages, I show my humanness and vulnerability.  It is in these vulnerables places that I connect with myself on a deeper level.  And if I choose, with another.

As I browse through a few of my earlier journals, I rediscover parts of myself–experiences, curiosities, confusions, illusions, poetry, painful places, the sci fi novel I started, unfinished short stories or complete essays waiting to be published.  I can revisit  whole periods of my life–what I felt, the choices that I made.  What about you?  Do you keep a journal?  Reviewing it, are you ever surprised by what you’ve written?

For me, a journal has been many things…
–a place to express and clear an immediate feeling, catharsis.
–a way to find a path through a difficult experience or time.
–a place to describe something memorable.
–salvation in the written word.
–a place to practice writing.
–for wordplay.
–to write poetry.
–to process
–for describing something in detail, as in word paintings.
–a place to explore ideas.
–to write out dialogue.
–for laundry list writing.
–for an actual laundry or shopping list.
–exploring areas where growth is desired.
–designing the next step, visioning.
–writing a letter I won’t send
–a place for prayer
–or to offer a blessing
–a place for gratitude

What is your journal to you?

A journal can provide that safe space to write freely.  If I considered that someone, someday might be reading my journals, would I express so freely?  If my journals are written with an audience in mind, that’s different.

I wonder if most writers keep a journal…has there ever been a survey on this?

While, it is true that some of what I write about in my journals is fodder for writing that I choose to make public, most of it is for my eyes only.  I ask myself if I would want my daughters to read my journals.  I consider assigning a friend the task of disposing of my journals when I meet my demise?

Do you mine your journals, shelve them, box them, keep them under lock and key, burn them, share them?

 

 

 

 

What Do You See?

As a writer, how do you PRACTICE describing what you see?

Following is one of my favorite poems that illustrates deeply seeing and then portraying what the poet observes.

Nude Descending a Staircase
© 1961 by X. J. Kennedy

Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
a gold of lemon, root and rind,
she sifts in sunlight down the stairs
with nothing on. Nor on her mind.
We spy beneath the banister
a constant thresh of thigh on thigh;
her lips imprint the swinging air
that parts to let her parts go by.
One-woman waterfall, she wears
her slow descent like a long cape
and pausing on the final stair,
collects her motions into shape.
I appreciate this poem because it not only succinctly describes a nude woman walking down the stairs, it creates an imagery whereby I, as the reader, also see her.  And, in her descent of the staircase, I note the action of her walking, the movement.  This is a great feat in poetry.
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We’ve seen artists with their pencils and art journals sketching what they see.  As a writer, do you practice writing word sketches?  These word sketches can be used later on in other writing that you do or to simply facilitate your ability to observe.  Either way, it’s not time wasted.
Writing Prompt:
Here’s  fun exercise.  Take yourself outdoors to a park bench and sit with your pen, a  journal and notice people, your surroundings, the array of dogs?  Find the precise words to describe the flowers, trees, any movement.  What adjectives or metaphors come to mind as you allow yourself to really see someone or something?  Jot them down.  Practice doing a word sketch…or several.
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Thank you to X.J. Kennedy for permission to print his poem.
“From In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New and Selected Poems (Johns Hopkins University Press), copyright 2007 by X. J. Kennedy.  By permission of the author.”

Where Do We Begin?

“BEHOLD A SACRED VOICE IS CALLING YOU.  ALL OVER THE SKY A SACRED VOICE IS CALLING YOU.”    a quote from Black Elk

Once you establish (for yourself) why you write–is it because you feel something or are provoked in some way; is it for catharsis, clarity, to communicate, for integration, revelation, pleasure or because you can, because you must?–from here you begin.  And, as Pablo Neruda spoke so eloquently in his poem…we write to “convey to others what we are.”

BUT HOW DO I BEGIN?  WHERE DO I BEGIN?  These are age-old questions for the new writer especially.  The simplest answer is to begin where you are with what you know. As we’ve seen in an earlier post, listing your curiosities and passions can be the lead-ins for writing something.

WRITING PROMPT
Sometimes, beginning is just about making a mark on a page…a symbol, favorite number, any letter, a scribble…MAKE A MARK!  NOW!

Phew, you got that out of the way; a beginning.

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Intrinsically, we know how to begin. We begin again and again with each new day.  That first cup of tea, coffee or juice in the morning marks the starting gate for entering the portal of a new day.  I love the optimism in waking to a new day.  I remember the old man in the beginning of the film, “The Milagros Beanfield Wars.”  He wakes up as a ray of sunshine warms his face, he gives a slight smile.  With some effort he sits up on the side of his bed.  He stands with greater effort and his breath quickens.  Stooped, he shuffles across the tiny space of his hovel, his breathing hard and fast.  The rooster in the yard crows.  He squints into the oval mirror and says–“Thank you, God, for letting me have another day.”  

Beginning signifies entering.  When you designate a time for writing, you enter non-ordinary or altered time.  It is a time apart.  This time apart can be referred to as sacred.
In this time and the physical space that you have created, there is the possibility for something new to emerge.  You are the scribe who shows up, pen-in-hand, open to this possible emergence.  However, if you don’t begin, don’t enter, there is only dreaming and dormancy.  Entering, beginning, taking the first step, we accept the invitation to write.

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WRITING PROMPT
On the next page of your journal, print your full name.  If you have a middle name, include that.  Write the date, time and place of your birth.  Write the name of the hospital where you were born (or was it a home birth–or in a taxi on the way to the hospital?). Write down the city, state and country of your birth.  What are the names of your parents?  Do you have siblings, older or  younger and how many?  Where are you in the birth order?  Write it all down.  Write one significant thing that you would like to note about your birth?

Ah, you’ve noted a few details about your beginnings.  Good for you!  Details are important to a writer.  Details make one story unique from another.

WRITING TIP
In order to feel that you can say whatever wants to be spoken, you have to feel a great degree of safety–especially in your private journal.  I recommend that you safeguard your writing.  Store your journal in a place which feels secure and away from prying eyes.  Freedom to write, at this stage, means that you are not inhibited in exploring your truths, thoughts and feelings.  You decide when and what you want to share and with whom when the time and conditions are right.