I tend to write more from my life than about my life. Journal writing is a way to be in conversation with all that is going on around us and inside of us. That’s one reason I don’t leave home without a field notebook. Often my blogs (as you have likely come to realize) are about what is happening right now, what I’m figuring out or encountering at this time. This is how I’ve written most of my books and now how I am approaching my novel.
I have developed what I call a Conversational Arc that helps writers explore a question and theme. Because life at its core is conversational, anything that keeps us engaged in this conversation helps us achieve our creative intentions. (I have an upcoming retreat/writeshop on Staying In The Conversations: A Transformational Writers’ Writeshop FRIDAY, January 11th.)
After seven months away from writing my novel, I re-joined Julie’s monthly writing circle ready to begin again. I’d finally finished the first draft on Christmas Eve, 2015. The next step was clear: spend the next year writing the second draft.
Julie uses the analogy of climbing a mountain to frame our approach to our writing and writing circle. We were at the base camp, about to begin our climb. What’s our intentions as we begin this journey? What keeps us going? What do we need to complete the climb?
Buddhist teachings reveal how distraction from the moment, and the reality of the moment, leads to confusion, apathy and misinterpretation of reality. But too many pasttimes are just that – built in to distract us.
One of the great distractions is television, now extended to the screens of our computers and phones. Advertisements brag how we can watch our favorite shows any where, any time. Why wait in line in silence, or in conversation with those around you, when you can watch the little screen on your phone? I remember when going on a road trip meant we shared in conversation and games as the scenes and landscape changed.
And our landscape is changing, right now.
One of my favorite writing coaches is Steven Pressfield, author of War of Art. His Wednesday blog: Writing Wednesday is consistently worth my time. Today he writes about Elements of a Great Villain, both the external ones and the internal ones in great stories.
“What qualities do these Hall of Fame antagonists have in common?
We writers and spiritual pilgrims are world builders, shape shifters; we make heroes, and, we identify and fight villains. We can be the hero in our own lives and stories. We discover personal truth where ever we are courageous enough to explore; we can consider any possibility. We can risk everything or risk nothing.
Over the past few weeks I have heard a certain reference multiple times: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
In my writing, teaching and counseling, as well as in my own spiritual and relational life, the shaping of my experiences gets down to a willingness to keep an explorer’s mind. Instead of going into something all sure of what it is about, we open our heart and mind to the experience. I do the same as I write. Even as I write this blog for you I maintain a curiosity about my subject. I explore. I hold a conversation with my ideas. This way I discover a lot more than if I came in with a set idea of what is suppose to happen, or what I “should” write about.
Life at its essence is conversational.
Most important is to have your own thoughts, build your worlds and views. Establish a foundation and communication with your true self, your heart and soul. For this, John O’donahue recommends that we develop a language of, and with, our own soul. My book, Wheel of Initiation helps each of us create our own soul language. “We must find ourselves in ourselves,” as Dostoevsky said. Too many people do not know the sacred language of their own souls. They don’t know what they are truly saying to themselves. Because we are an “eternal essence,” (John O’donahue, Anam Cara), a spiritual being having a human experience, the Mystery of who we are cannot be limited to our work, roles or whatever scam our ego may be selling us. And, it can never be who others say, or insist, we are.
“Some nights stay up till dawn as the moon sometimes does for the sun. Be a full bucket, pulled up the dark way of well then lifted out into the light. Something opens our wings, something makes boredom and hurt disappear. Someone fills the cup in front of us, we taste only sacredness.” ( -Thirteenth-century Persian prayer, translated by Robert Bly)
Want help with your exploring? Contact me for a session. For the month of May and June I am offering discounted consultations for my blog readers.
About the Author
Julie lives near Madison WI where she walks her dog on Military Trail, & attends Yoga at Bliss Flow Yoga. She is author of The Zero Point Agreement & 10 other books.