“I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being. And even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality.” — Ursula Le Guin, National Book Awards speech, 2014
We tend to see out of the same lense. We look out into the world and interpret what we see with an unconscious regularity. Our habits and set ideas tend to drive our narrative. We also know that to change our habits, such as what we think about ourselves, or, what we eat, is difficult. Research has shown us that we are unlikely to change anyone’s mind, unless they are at least curious enough to listen. Internal change comes by invitation.
We may live in a smaller picture but many of us crave a larger view. We seek to experience and understand more.
Writing can help us gain a larger picture, and give us the power to change our lenses and view. Writing gives us a way to witness our lives, so that we can participate in a more conscious way. And, as we open up our view more, we will help our readers open too. The power of the written word is mighty for the writer as she writes and then for the reader as they read.
There are known writerly tools that open our consciousness and view, that help us gain vision while we capture a bigger picture. Here are a few:
Leave the recipes.
Intentionally break rules and patterns.
Stay longer or leave early.
Identify and challenge all expectations.
Hand write ideas and stories down. (Journal every day).
Write a poem.
Write about the door you haven’t opened; the visitor who never came; the country you never visited; the person you never met; the room you never entered.
Hang out with new people. Travel to new places. Go on a scavenger hunt for new items, conversations, people. Give yourself a day to visit a new place with your scavenger list. Don’t go home till you have most of the items checked off. (Of course, keep notes.)
Do consciousness-opening practices.
Visit communities that expose you to a diversity of people, or, a new culture.
Switch the art on your walls. Move your furniture. When things don’t change, you stop seeing them. Change things up.
Be curious. Ask questions. Listen.
Writing Prompt: (When it warms up), go outside and listen to all the sounds. Listen for the sounds beneath the sounds. Jot them all down in your field notebook. Then (separately) write about what you don’t remember…. I don’t remember my father visiting me; I don’t remember my childhood kitchen; I don’t remember my first kiss…. (as examples, I do remember my first kiss). Then, later bring these two together: write a poem using the sounds and what you don’t remember.
“The use of imaginative fiction is to deepen your understanding of your world, and your fellow men, and your own feelings, and your destiny.” ― Ursula Le Guin,The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1979
"Once one has eyes to see it, wholeness can always be found, hidden beneath the broken surface of things." Parker J Palmer, On The Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Older.
Whether the brokenness comes from within or without, writing can open a way in and through our brokenness.
We all fall, get our hearts broken, experience disappointment and loss, get scared and feel our separateness from others. To write gives us a way to be present with all the brokenness and then to discover its hidden wholeness. A wholeness that consistently resides within and around us. Writing gives permission to our vulnerability and a way to be intimate with all that scares us. Writing is both a way to contemplate the world and a way to stay engaged.
My book, The Zero Point Agreement, was (unknown to me at the time), a love letter to my future self and readers. A way to lay a path down and give myself a place to go. What I find to be true is, what we experience as we write is experienced by the reader as they read.
My novel (which is nearing completion!) is a place for me to play, learn and explore. I get to go into places through fiction writing that are off limits elsewhere.
Now, my up and coming book, The Red Thread, based in part on conversations with, and teachings of Parker J Palmer, helped me to live more whole and courageously in a broken world. I intend my future readers to tap further into their courage and wholeness. On Valentines Day I received a contract to publish this book with Shanti Arts.
I am grateful to the time I give myself to write and to read. I have traveled on the page places I would otherwise have missed.
apparent in the world
Beyond that world of opposites
is an unseen, but experienced,
unity and identity in us all"
– Joseph Campbell, Reflections on the Art of Living
Write about that.
Meet up with me and other writers at Sjolinds in Mount Horeb Friday March 1st, 10 till 1:00, to write and visit. I will happily consult with you on your writing.
Here is a thing my heart wishes
the world had more of:
I heard it in the air of one night
when I listened to a mother
singing softly to a child
restless and angry in the darkness. Carl Sandburg, WindSong
Poetry helped me make sense of my teenage years. I still have my copy of Wind Song by Carl Sandburg along with Leanord Cohen’s Selected Poems and Rumi. If I open Wind Song too far or too fast the binder will snap. I would likely have been more alone, and my mind less connected to the metaphorical reality of life if it weren’t for my poets. Poems and metaphors make connections where there appears to be none. Metaphor and poetry don’t render us stuck on just one thing – one idea or perception, or relying on someone else’s idea; poetry lets us come to understand something in our own way.
All Write Wednesdays: World into Word
All Write Wednesdays is a blog about living the writer's life. Everything in our lives is material. Read all of the All Write Wednesdays posts.
Zero Point Blog
The Zero Point blog shares my teachings about living your life from the inside out and becoming the cause rather than the effect of your life. Read all of the Zero Point posts.
About the Author
Julie lives in Mount Horeb WI where she walks her dog through Stewart Park, gardens her corner lot, attends yoga at Bliss Flow Yoga in Madison and waits for spring 11 months of the year. She is author of The Zero Point Agreement & ten other books. She also writes for the local Mount Horeb paper and in her free time listens in on others' conversations at Sjolinds.
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