when I walked down the road
taking only You,
until the noise became less—and the light more true, then
the river began to flow again
under my skin.
"Even the most devastating experiences can be doorways to contemplation.” Parker J. Palmer
I am finishing up the final touches to my Red Thread manuscript before I send it on to the publisher. The book is peppered with verses and poems by Rebecca Cecchini and quotes from Parker J Palmer. These offerings are like sutras, and provide gaps in my narrative and teachings to allow the reader to take pause and contemplate.
Pausing and contemplating. Sounds good, yes?
“The kind of truth that matters does not make itself known to those who shout for it to come out and then try to batter down the door. The truth that matters must trust us before we can have a relationship with it.” –Parker J. Palmer, The Promise of Paradox
When we pause and contemplate in our writing and life our words and life speak to us. Our life experience answers all the questions we have about who we are, what we want and what's working and not working. Is our life flowing forward? How does this relationship or job feel in our body? What am I giving my time to? Where is my joy? What am I grieving? Is this the story I want to be writing? Are we pounding on closed doors?
“As often happens on the spiritual journey, we have arrived at the heart of a paradox: each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is stop pounding on the door that just closed, turn around-which puts the door behind us-and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls. The door that closed kept us from entering a room, but what now lies before us is the rest of reality.” (Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak)
Take time today, every day ideally, to pause and to check in with yourself. Your life and writing needs no forcing or pounding. . . as life naturally moves forward. Be still and know.
Listen to your life.
It is not we who are to be tested in the trials that await,
but those principles on which we stand. In this knowing should be our comfort and peace.
blind in a way are all our travels and trusting.
don't try to keep your heart from breaking. That is as it should be.
but trust the metal of love more than anything else as your beam, and when you fall, fall
full-knowing into the strong arms of compassion. even those
you can't see. —Rebecca Cecchini
Mind•Body•Word: 3 Days of Yoga & Writing at Holy Wisdom Monastery
YOGA & Writing Retreat this August 27, 28, and 29: Includes all meals and classes.
Explore True Self on the mat and page with yoga teacher (and blogger) Molly Chanson and writing sherpa and counselor, Julie Tallard Johnson. Three days of attending to mind, body and word in a beautiful, natural setting. To register contact: Molly Chanson at email@example.com. 773-259-1202
From Journal to Reader
4 Evenings of Turning Your Ideas, Experiences & Journals into Blogs, Articles, Essays, or Books
Create something meaningful for readers from your JOURNALS and NOTES. Or learn how to USE YOUR JOURNALS and notes to make a great written piece. From Journal to Reader: 4 Evenings of Turning Your Ideas and Journals into Blogs, Articles, Essays, or Book for Readers. 4 Thursday nights, two in June and two in July at Healing Services on the River in Prairie du Sac. June 13th and 27th; July 11th and 25th. 5:30 pm till 9:00. Room for 10. Register soon, as this will fill up. Your investment is $220.00, includes personal attention and consultation and critique of 10 pages. You will leave with a solid template and path to sharing your ideas with the world. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The world is wily, and doesn't want to be caught." –Susan Mitchell
Writing is not a simple thing; but to write well we do best by keeping our writing simple.
We want to find the fewest and best words to show what we mean, to write a great scene, or to share a meaningful lesson or experience. Keeping it simple means to give the reader details and descriptions that are story and character relevant. The story, as it turns out, is in the details.
The world is a wild and complex place. You want to take the time to find the accurate words, to find that metaphor or analogy that brings the reader into your story. Long, complicated sentences, full of mystery and mixed messages will lose most readers. You want the story to hold mystery but you don't want what you are expressing to be a mystery to the reader.
We want our language to match our experience. And when that happens the reader is transported into a new world–– the world you created.
This is our work as writers: to translate experience into something meaningful to our readers.
Keep it simple and carry on.
I’ve written 11 nonfiction books. I’m completing the final edits on my 11th book (to be published in April 2020 by Shanti Arts). I write this weekly Writers' blog (most weeks). I write for a local paper. I’m working on the finishing touches of my novel. And yes, I’m writing my 12th nonfiction book (which is for writers!). I’ve published a few short stories, and, I’ve submitted poetry to contests. (Okay, and I'm taking notes on a memoir I'm working on).
Like most authors, I don’t make enough of a living from my writing, so I have day jobs.
So, how do we keep writing till our project is complete?
The way to keep writing is to stay in the conversation with your theme and subject. You are in fact writing when you are cleaning the toilet if while cleaning ideas come to you. (and you jot them down).
When you are in the conversation you will harvest metaphors and lines like an apple picker during peak season. While in the conversation you will think about how to present an idea or scene. You will work sentences in your head. You will pay attention and notice more. What you notice will be relative to your subject and theme. You will explore ideas on your feet and off the page.
When sharing your subject and theme with someone else it is conversational when the dialogue is going back and forth, not if you are just telling someone about your book or ideas. There is a back and forth, a give and take, an exchange in conversation. You will get more ideas, make more connections when you are heavy on the listening and light on the talking.
All in all, when we tap into the conversational nature of reality with a given subject or theme the doors of the Divine open up to synchronistic and meaningful encounters which will have you pulling out your field notebook and taking notes.
Of course, writing does get down to putting ideas down on paper (or these days your computer screen). However, the writing it down part will be more natural and progressive, just part of the conversation. Conversational writing will not feel forced and there is no such thingy as a writer’s block.
How to Stay in the Conversation and FINISH your Project (book/blog/article):
Focus your conversations and explorations.
Be open and look for metaphors and analogies in your daily environments (that are subject and theme related).
Always carry a field notebook (on my walks, I use my phone to take notes).
Hand write ideas or thoughts down (every day).
Have guiding questions that open you up to receiving ideas.
Write a weekly blog on your subject or theme.
Keep to a particular subject (and theme) till your project is done. (That means you Dina.)
Join a supportive Writing Circle, (not a critique circle).
Hire a Writing Sherpa!, Mentor or Coach.
Take workshops on your theme or subject (just as important than on how to write).
Sign up for my on-line class The Initiated Writer.
Find a new environment once a month to write in.
And you could always get a new (rescued) puppy . . .
We will be welcoming Lulu into our home on March 27th.
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.
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Julie lives in Mount Horeb WI where she walks her dogs through Stewart Park, gardens her corner lot, attends yoga at Perennial Yoga in Fitchburg 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.