Tuesday, April 7, 2015

On Writing

It's taken me a long time to say: I am a writer.

Because that feels other-worldly. Out-of-reach. Much more serious than the things I do. Yes, even after publishing a book. But it's not a big publisher. It's not even in Barnes and Noble, so....

As you can see, I/we come up with all kinds of excuses to make a smaller deal out of who we are. Is it because there's too much pressure? We feel we need to produce something mind-blowing to be considered "true" artists?

If you write, you are a writer.
If you draw/doodle/paint/collage, you are an artist.

We all have creativity, just some of us use it more than others.

More from Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

"Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you're conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth is what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of...Be afraid of wasting any more time obsessing about how you look and how people see you. Be afraid of not getting your writing done. If something inside you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don't worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act--truth is always subversive." (pg. 225-6)

"You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sandcastles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won't really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we'll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people; the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won't wash the away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be." (pg. 231)

"Even if the only people in your writing group read your memories or stories or novel, even if you only wrote your story so that one day your children would know what life was like when you were a child and you knew the name of every dog in town--still, to have written your version is an honorable thing to have done. Against all odds, you have put it down on paper, so that it won't be lost. And who knows? Maybe what you've written will help others, will be a small part of the solution. You don't even have to know how or in what way, but if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can do understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining." (pg. 235-6)

" 'So why does our writing matter, again?' they ask. Because of the spirit. Because of the heart. Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life; they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship." (pg. 237)

We're all together on this ship.

We need what you were born to create.