Writing as Transformation

“I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.”

–Joyce Carol Oates

How do you change when you are writing?

Comments

  1. Karla says

    Concentration. Engagement. Flow. These converge together when I write, not unlike one of those desktop zen water fountains where water and rock and electricity combine to create something distinctly different than each of their individual components. It’s not the only time I reach this convergence—I also feel it when I swim, commune with nature, or conversate with people I love. The difference with writing is that it happens more consistently.

    It makes sense to me that this happens with writing, as writing seems to require that I be mindful. I have to be in the present moment of the act of writing enough to be able to focus my attention on the experience I am attempting to communicate through writing. That, in turn, means that I have to use my mindfulness to relive that experience, with just enough distance to be able to observe myself in that (previous) moment. Maybe it’s a little like watching a home movie and being transported inside that time, while simultaneously watching myself have that experience. The best part is being able to relive the emotional piece of what happened without being caught up in it. It’s a subtle but important difference.

    Writing has changed me into a more mindful person. It is a friendly reminder that there is nothing more important than actually living your life while you’re doing it. There are times when I’m having a “moment” and I think to myself, “remember what this feels like so you can write it down later.” Haha, my writer mocks me (gently), you can just kiss that experience good-bye.

    Writing is, at its lovely and uncomplicated core, an act of love. Love for the people and experiences that make up the things that I write about, and love for the desire to communicate them to others. Love for myself, that I believe I have something worthwhile to say. Love for the world I live in, that my writing might add to the pile-on that makes it a better place.

    • Mary Carlson says

      I love your comment about how writing allows you to relive an emotional experience without being caught up in it. Writing can help you to process things internally and on paper…a luxury afforded by the act of reflection. This rarely happens in the moment for me, especially when I’m emotionally charged.

      And yes, writing is an act of love for oneself–you state your declaration that what you have to say is worthwhile. Write on, Karla!

    • says

      Karla, I loved this. I could relate completely–especially to the part of me that watches my experience as a future potential writing piece rather than fully living it in the moment. This is one of the occupational hazards of being a writer (I especially experience it when doing daily blogging), one I have to consciously choose to turn off. But I have been known to take notes as I sit with my mother in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, just to record all the amazing things that she says. Guilty as charged.

    • Hazel says

      Karla,
      You wrote this so beautifully, and you were the first one to post! I think you had prior knowledge as to what the prompt was going to be today. lol

      Your last paragraph appealed to me the most as love is what I feel when I am writing down my stories. “Love for the people and experiences that make up the things that I write about, and love for the desire to communicate them to others. Love for myself, that I believe I have something worthwhile to say. Love for the world I live in, that my writing might add to the pile-on that makes it a better place.” You have captured it totally.

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Karla says

        I was so excited to be first! It helps to be in the central time zone (2 hours ahead of California) and it helps that the boy is taken to school at 7:40am, which means that I focus on my writing and make it my priority for the day. Thank you for your kind words, Hazel.

    • Eana Rose says

      I love this last paragraph…… Love all around. I am gathering my courage to join this writing group and for Bali! next year.
      Love, eana

      • says

        Eana, welcome to the Roadmap Blog! I hope this is the first of many posts you share with us here. This is a warm and caring community. I hope you feel at home here. And of course, I hope you come to Bali with me next year! It’s a magical and very special place.

      • Karla says

        Hi Eana, thank you for the feedback and I’d add to Laura’s encouragement to both join us here and to join Laura in Bali. I haven’t been to Bali with Laura, but I’ve been to Commonweal (twice) and the opportunity to learn from Laura and the amazing writers that flock to her retreats is not to be missed.

    • Wendy says

      Karla, I feel that you started with your three words, and then you demonstrated these words through your piece. I felt that this writing was a living testimonial to the benefits that come from regularly writing. Thank you.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Ooh, I love the concept at the end of writing as love and that explorations…and I enjoy the home movie part–and the explorations of the different levels, the distance, and the closeness…this piece also moved gently from one idea to the next.
      Thank you!

    • Judy says

      Karla, Yes, convergence, your captured this prompt with that glorious word. Then followed it with these elements, water, mindfulness and love. Nicely crafted and great use of images and insight. Thank you so much.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Karla, I always love your use of language. Could I relate to this piece! You bet. I especially love these quotes, “Haha, my writer mocks me (gently), you can just kiss that experience good-bye.” (I think this often!) and well, the entire last paragraph. Your last two sentences stick out because of the kind words you said to me last week. “Love for myself, that I believe I have something worthwhile to say. Love for the world I live in, that my writing might add to the pile-on that makes it a better place.” Oh yes. In Scotland, I met a man who said this about my friend writing in her little notebook while we watched, “Isn’t that POSH?!” Guess I was too–I took notes on his verbal notations about the act of writing. :)

      • Karla says

        I love that story about writing in a little notebook being “posh,” or somehow extraordinarily luxurious in a world of expensive, high tech devices that can transcribe and translate for us. As if writing by hand in a notebook can only be afforded by the most elite or rich. Actually, I find that kind of cheery, that our lives can be structured to allow for the luxury of actual writing, that we actually have time for it after we’ve answered our emails on our smartphones and surfed the web on our tablets.

  2. Barbara Keller says

    Not much time today, but I can’t resist just a note. When I write, that is the only time I feel like me. If I write something complete, even if it’s only 600 words, I sleep better, I am less lonely, less cranky, less dissatisfied with myself and my life. I don’t do it often enough, and if I don’t for a while – how much time? I don’t know. Too long. I can’t live in my own skin. Sometimes if I sew something, mend an apron, fix something, it helps, but nothing does it like writing for calming the wild soul and restoring order – rearranging the furniture in my mind so it’s fresh and a lot more comfortable. Miss you all.

    • Mary Carlson says

      Your note is magnificent! The image of rearranging furniture in your mind “so it’s fresh and a lot more comfortable”–stellar writing!

    • says

      Barbara, I’m glad you know and respect the role writing plays in your life–but like all of us, there are times you know that, but still don’t write. What is it about us humans? That we don’t do the things we know feed us the most?

    • Hazel says

      Barbara,
      Thank you for sharing.

      I like you find other things to do “but nothing does it like writing for calming the wild soul and restoring order.” You have nailed it.

    • Karla says

      Yes, I nod my head to all of this. I think I might be at my best me when I write. But you reminded me of what Gloria Steinem has said about writing, “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel that I should be doing something else.”

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I enjoyed the barebones way this piece got directly to the points–what writing gives. I was struck by the line, “When I write, that is the only time I feel like me.” And I enjoyed the comparison/contrast to sewing and fixing.. “Calming soul and restoring order”–well put! Thanks!

    • Barbara Keller says

      You guys are great. I don’t know why I don’t do it more. The voice of guilt in part, that yells, “do something constructive,” and lack of time and energy. I’d rather sleep or read than work, and the paper, which demands attention all the time, and for which I edit not write. And fear. Actually writing takes courage and fortitude and when are those easy? or the preferred route?

      Thanks for all the praise and especially for understanding what I was saying and liking the way I said it. Hooray for you. Barb

    • Judy says

      Barbara, you summed it up beautifully. I love this piece and this last line, ‘but nothing does it like writing for calming the wild soul and restoring order – rearranging the furniture in my mind so it’s fresh and a lot more comfortable.’ Am so with you on this prompt. Thanks.

  3. Lee Xanthippe says

    Right now I am exhausted but my soul is much thicker than a playing card, Joyce.

    You ask how I change when I am writing—a massive question, Laura, but
    Perhaps I can answer for now.

    I am still exhausted.

    The first thing I think when I read the Joyce Carol Oates quote (does Joyce Carol Oates like oats? No I do not think that.) I think, if I were Joyce I’d go back to bed, get some beauty rest or some kind of rest. I do not want to lean on my writing to enliven me. Or maybe I have to or want to sometimes. I don’t know what I am saying.

    I’m sure Joyce writes better than me when she is exhausted.

    I’d sleep, eat something I like, take a walk maybe, breathe in the apple fritter-y smell of the Old Roma bakery around the corner, put one foot in front of the other, feel what the first of fall feels like. I reach down and pick up fallen olives and squoosh them or maybe this time of year another thing has fallen to the ground that I must lean over and squoosh or perhaps the orange cat will be there like yesterday playing lion but sleeping at the bottom front of the ledgy thing on either side of the stairs (what do you call the ledgy lion guarding spot??)

    That enlivens me—that sort of thing—the geese in the park, a trio, and how at first one sticks his thick narrow tongue out at me and goes, “Haaaa!” but it sounds more like a darth vador hiss (damn spellcheck—shouldn’t you at last know how to spell Vader when I don’t—oh, maybe you do and it was just becaust I was too exhausted to capitalize).

    And then I sit with a friend on the bench and the three geese come to us deciding we’re okay and they come close and eat little things I can’t see out of the grass and the thin squirrels who are not as thing as playing cards, share the same space as the geese but run close and away from them. The squirrels defer.

    I must defer from writing now, a little less exhausted despite myself. (Was it the writing that did it or the raisin bran-organic square combination with milk that de-exhausted me? Or the loving hand that served it?)

    My day pulls me. My work day never pulls me as much as writing pulls me. I don’t want to write that out loud because I want to be a certain trooper that I am and pull on like a lion suit each morning as step out of my car or off my bus declaring, “I am yours. Do with me what you will.” But then I do not always like what work does to me. (What a bad attitude, yes? Or is it what I let work do to me. Take me from some of the things I love best, but also it supports me to do what I love best. A little anyway. And always my writing comes back to the question,

    “How to live?” and also, “How to live better?”

    • Mary Carlson says

      Lee, your writing inspires me to be truthful in my own writing. I appreciate your comment about wanting to be a “certain trooper..and pull on a lion suit each morning as I step out of my car…declaring, ‘I am yours….’ If you can’t speak your thoughts publically, who is looking over your shoulder when you lodge them in your journal? And there you can be honest. Writing allows us to find a confidant who is private and consoling, because when we reread our own words, we are emboldened. Thank you.

    • says

      I love your musing here, Lee. I wish I could say that my work doesn’t suck me in more than my writing–but that would be a lie. I can easily get lost in work. And even though all my work is writing-related, it is not writing.

    • Hazel says

      Lee,
      Thank you for sharing. Yeah, writing and then the other things. “How to live?” and also, “How to live better?” there is always a choice.

    • Shellie says

      I enjoyed reading about the lion suit and going about your day what a thought that was, and the way you put it into words, makes me think od “Where the Wild Things Are”. Putting on a suit, gives me another way of thinking about going through my mundane days. I like this writing.

    • Judy says

      Lee, I liked being swept up in the flow of your musing and belly laughed with this line, “(does Joyce Carol Oates like oats?).” You always bring Nature into your writings (Barry Lopez) and I like the arch that ends with these wonderful questions, “How to live?” and also, “How to live better?” Nice writing. Thank you.

  4. Fran Stekoll says

    I change when I’m writing because I see myself as others see me.

    Deep within my soul are hidden secrets, feelings, emotions, that I try to keep
    crammed down the well.

    When I write these seem to surface and everything I’ve dared not to reflect
    bear their ugly heads.

    I’m forced to see my own reflection.

    Sometimes I don’t agree with what I see; but I know it’s healing and important to face.
    My true self stares squarely at my inner self and I begin to reveal who and what I genuinely am.

    Thanks Laura for bringing me to the surface.

    • Hazel says

      Fran,
      You have said it well, “Deep within my soul are hidden secrets, feelings, emotions, that I try to keep crammed down the well.” I find myself crammed down the well with the secrets and writing lets me float to the top, gasp for air, swim out to the edge and find the steps that lead to restoration.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • MaryL says

      Fran, I love your statement that you are forced to see your own reflection. With all due respect, perhaps it’s more that you give yourself permission to look!!!! Thanks so much! MaryL

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Bold opening line, “I change when I’m writing because I see myself as others see me.” And intriguing. How does someone do that?? And “My true self stares squarely at my inner self” is also intriguing. I sensed some mystery in this piece–revealing and not revealing at the same time. Thank you!

    • Judy says

      Fran, thank you for the honest, reflective, insightful response to this post. I love the construction and intent of this line, ‘Deep within my soul are hidden secrets, feelings, emotions, that I try to keep
      crammed down the well.” WOWgosh! Good craft and thank you.

  5. Shellie says

    How do you change when you are writing?

    My heart changes as I write my heart changes in feeling the way I do at the moment I start typing out what it is that is killing me at the time. Killing is a strong word and I thought twice before using it, but I think of that song “killing me softly” and that is what I mean by killing me at the moment that I write out a problem or thoughts at any given time.

    I miss writing when I don’t have a thing to write about. Sad I think I don’t have something to write about but ever since my writing helped me grow out of depression years ago, I feel like I don’t have anything interesting to write about or “work out”.

    Yesterday morning I found myself exhausted with myself and decided to type it all out, and thinking it would make me more accountable to my problem that is plaguing me if I actually write out names of the culprits that stop me from progressing in life as I know it. And now that it is set in type, I have to acknowledge that it is that big of a problem, that I have to get it corrected. I felt release of it as I faced my demons out on the screen of my PC here, and it was again very early in the morning when I used to write everything. I do feel a change in my heart after releasing this haunting on screen. I don’t write on paper any longer as it is so much easier to catch up to my thoughts on a keyboard. There are so many other things that have changed me in writing and not enough time to write them all down.

    But heart change is a big one for sure…

    • says

      Dear Shellie, Welcome to the Roadmap Blog and I hope this is your first post of many. I found myself intrigued with this idea that writing only serves you when you have something to “work out,” purge or process. I agree, writing is incredibly useful in those ways, but perhaps you could also broaden the ways writing serves you–maybe even delights you. It is a most versatile medium and can serve us in so many ways.

      • Shellie says

        Thank you Laura, I am trying to get back to writing once again, and that prompt caught my attention like pulling me in. I do have a hard time finding something interesting in happy. Isn’t that weird? OK, but I will try. I was always a happy go lucky person before depression hit hard, and happy go lucky seemed boring to others. I sure became interesting when I wrote about depression and loneliness, hmmm…no wonder I feel like I don’t have anything interesting to say when happy? Just a thought.

        • Lee Xanthippe says

          “and happy go lucky seemed boring to others” seems like that would be a great prompt for someone who felt that way….it feels like there is something there in that sentence…

    • Hazel says

      Shellie,
      Validation once again; “Sad I think I don’t have something to write about but ever since my writing helped me grow out of depression years ago,” I write my best poetry when I am depressed. I was extremely for several years and in that time I was writing poetry in forms. It is very demanding but I became nearly obsessed with it and when I began to lighten up on it I found I was not depressed anymore. Even writing prose I find it becomes liberating, although I find it more difficult to write when I am happy.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I enjoyed the strong language in this piece–killing and culprit, demons, “this haunting on screen”…and also the exploration of how the heart changes when writing.

      I was intrigued by the part about depression and how writing helped and also now the feeling of not having anything interesting to write about or to “work out.”
      Thanks much for sharing this piece!

    • Judy says

      Hello Shelly and welcome. I like how you so openly tell the reader you miss writing when you don’t have a thing to write about. I’m with you on that one. It reminds me of what writer, film producer, very funny lady, Nora Ephron’s mother told her, “It’s all copy, darling, it’s all copy.” So here’s to hoping you find the time to write more in this lovely community with others who are opening their hearts and minds to the joy of wordplay. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Mary Carlson says

    Writing keeps me accountable to my own deepest longings, those too painful or outrageous to articulate. I gave birth because of my writing…even though at the age of 43 and single, it made no sense. Except to me, the one who had longed for a child for easily 20 years.

    I wrote these lines in my journal on August 15, 1997, while returning from hard volunteer work in Canada, making trails deep in Strathcona Provincial Park on Victoria Island. Traveling on the ferry from Sydney, B.C. to Anacortes, Washington, I wrote:

    “Of course I want to write about the service trip, but not now. Now I want to record my determination to start motherhood when I get back. Barbara’s comment crystalized it for me–’You can spend a lifetime being on the fence.’ Now is the time. Now is the time. Now is the time.”

    Four months later I was pregnant.

    • Hazel says

      Wow, Mary,
      I have sometimes written down things in journals or made collages of things that I wanted in my life; found them some time later and found that they have come true. Writing it down reinforces what my mind wants, it is the first manifestation of the desired thoughts. In that way it “keeps me accountable to my own deepest longings.”

      Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Karla says

      That is a great birth story! I wondered, or maybe just hoped– rhetorical question, not required to answer, whether your teen knows the story that preceded his/her birth. Sounds like a lovely place to be conceived– emotionally if not exactly physically. I’ve been on that ferry, and it’s inspiring itself. I also loved the way you wrote this story, in simple, elegant phrases.

      • Mary Carlson says

        Thank you Karla, for the generous comments! No, I haven’t shared this with my daughter, but now I think I should. It so clearly conveys the power of thought, committed to paper, leading to action. Yes, that is a great ferry trip! I wrote those lines sitting in the bow!

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Great soul-catching opening words–”Writing keeps me accountable to my own deepest longings, those too painful or too outrageous to articulate. I gar birth because of my writing…” Those lines drew me right into this piece!

      “Now is the time.”
      Thank you!

    • Judy says

      Mary, what a powerful story. This piece is written so clearly, straightforward from this strong opening line “Writing keeps me accountable to my own deepest longings…” to the last line. You take us through your steps to nurture the Canadian forests, to nurturing yourself, and your forthcoming child. The power of it all made me smile deeply and say, “Yea, that’s how it works.” Thank you for sharing this piece.

  7. Hazel says

    Abcdefghijklmno as my words kick in, I begin to concentrate. Mundane things begin to fade into the background and I go for the story. My mind pulls up the picture and I begin to describe the scene, the characters, then the action starts like a movie and I must write it down. Sometimes the movie keeps playing and I find myself writing for hours. Sometimes it stops and I am puzzled at why; did the film break? I guess that is a question that will not be asked much anymore as film goes digital. I hate that! More of the present is pushed into the past and right before our very eyes as movie houses begin the expensive switch, but what can they do? Movies will not be made in film so it is change or perish. Wow! How did I get so far off track? Monkey mind? Most of the time it is like being in an trance. My muse sits on my shoulder and whispers the words into my ear. From there the words are pushed out the ends of my fingers and because my fingers are dyslexic they often push out the wrong letters and I have to do a lot of back spacing. This is very frustrating if I am really on a role. Some days the dyslexia is such a problem that I give up trying to write anything I want to keep. It is interesting, I think, that the letters that I mix up on the keyboard are the same letters that I mix up when writing with a pen. Time stops, with my hands busy on the keyboard I seldom even reach for my coffee cup. It sits there busily making a scum on top. My husband comes and sits down on the chair beside my desk, I acknowledge him, barely, he turns off the warmer under my coffee and says something about he’ll be back soon and I say, “Okay, be safe!” and keep on going. The dogs come in, one at a time or together, I reach down with one hand while the other one stays poised over the keys; I pet them as I read over a few lines back up the page and they leave. Where was I? Oh, there, I’m ready to slip back into full writers mode. It is sort of how a setting hen is when she is on the nest, she just sits there staring into space with a glazed look on her face and God help those who would disturb her. How do I change when I write? Let me see . . .

    • Karla says

      Hazel, I really enjoyed your voice in this piece– you sounded especially limber, a little free range, and very much centered in the heart of your writing process. I felt like I was right there beside you, and I loved your sense of determination and how nothing (and no one) is an obstacle to getting your writing done.

    • Mary Carlson says

      Gorgeous line, that is: “Writing…reinforces what my mind wants, it is the first manifestation of the desired thoughts.” Would that we all had the courage to take our thoughts and dreams so seriously…. Thank you for your remarks!

      So that was in reference to your comments about my birth story.

      Now to your piece: I love the present-tense stream of consciousness. So reminds me of how we were encouraged to write back in 1970. I think giving yourself the freedom to meander can lead to some surprising discoveries and great word-play.
      I very much like the image of your muse, whispering words into your ear, and pushing out the ends of your fingers!

    • Shellie says

      I love this piece…and wished I could sit for hours like I used to in able to write for hours. I can’t sit still long enough now. I love “he turns off the warmer under my coffee” as that pulled me in for some reason, maybe I found a likeness to myself and my coffee, being right there getting cold as I write… Loved this.

    • Tony del Zompo says

      “More of the present is pushed into the past and right before our very eyes…” i love this image. but, only for those of us whose eyes are open, right hazel?

      • Hazel says

        Yes, Tony, and I see it with such clarity, Damn! I was telling my husband last night how I worked stringing core matrix for computers that took up whole warehouses back in the early ’60′s and now there is a wrist watch with a computer in it that has a camera on the band, a phone, and you can send e-mail from it. And, it is less than an 1 inch square and very flat.

    • Judy says

      Hazel, you’ve done it again and it’s delightful. You grabbed the reader immediately and held us through to the last line. I love that this piece is one graph. I love the lines about your husband coming in to check on you, the coffee and your response. (Yup, that plays out in our home too). Love the descriptions of the dogs and of course the muses (ah, the muses, don’t we love them). Monkey mind or jitterbug, it works and thank you.

    • Hazel says

      Thank all of you so much for your comments. I just love seeing how people react to what I write. It is like a game in which I just never know how it will turn out but which everyone who participates wins.

  8. Wendy says

    When I regularly write, I feel more confident in myself. I feel that my voice drops an octave. I feel several inches taller. When I write regularly, I feel that I represent myself. I feel the parts get heard. When I travel in the daily world, it feels like I’m wearing a cape with a big red W on my chest that can’t be seen by the visible eye, but those in the know can see it’s there. It’s a feeling that I can go into any situation, and although it may not turn the way I thought it would, I will have time later on to dig deep, to assess, to reflect, to vent, to celebrate, to do the typey, typey Snoopy dance that can happen as a result of regular writing.

    • MaryL says

      Wendy, I love the image of the red cape! It’s so joyous! I suspect that when you write something strong, you are poised to do the “dance of joy!” Thanks for your happy nudge! Mary L

    • Hazel says

      Very nice, concise piece of writing. I love that the “parts get heard” and you can “go into any situation” and the write about it later. That’s what good writers do.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Wendy, WOW. Vivid images. So creative. Love your words and love writer as superhero doing the happy dance. Thank you for this piece.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Wendy, The first quote here made me laugh, “I feel that my voice drops an octave. I feel several inches taller.” To me, the last one is a call to validate, to heed that inner call and acknowledge yourself. “When I write regularly, I feel that I represent myself. I feel the parts get heard.” Enjoyed this. Thanks a lot. By the way, where can I buy one of those capes with the W? Mine’s white and, you know, it’s after Labour Day.

  9. Terilynn says

    Perhaps it is the aging process. My memoirs prove I existed. They seem to give my life a meaning I didn’t appreciate at the time the story occurred. Writing brings me full-circle, in a way. As the story unfolds, I feel like a spectator — finding both the humor and the pathos of the situation.

    I suppose my writing leans toward a channeling-type process. The story emerges from the depths of my being, and often surprises me with the content. I play with it, give it space, allow it to breathe.

    Within the pages I find redemption, as well as discovering patterns of behavior that served me as a young survivor, but are now detrimental to my well-being. In this way, writing makes me more self-aware.

    I bless the gift of creativity that my tormented forebears handed down to me. I see it in the next generation of my family, and I support them. We may all be screwed up, but damn if we can’t produce an awesome performance.

    • says

      Terilyn, I loved this piece–especially your last paragraph and your last line, “We may all be screwed up, but damn if we can’t produce an awesome performance.”

    • MaryL says

      TeriLynn: Thanks for tying in how we process the past in our writing. So much more clearly now, we can see which paths were smooth and which were like quicksand, and we have learned to wear hiking boots…. and we have opened our heart to self- now and then. MaryL

    • Hazel says

      “My memoirs prove I existed. They seem to give my life a meaning” I am with you on this one, only I would add and I have to write them down. Like Laura I love your last line, it seems to be the human condition.

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Shellie says

        I believe because I read this last night late in the evening I dreamed that I was talking to my Granny and told her thank you for the stories she gave me, before she died. Thank you for sharing this, I am so glad I came and joined in yesterday, this is where I feel I should be right now.It was an awesome dream too…

    • Terry Gibson says

      TeriLyn, I love how you describe the writing process. When I read about how you let your story breathe, I saw a hungry, salivating, family, awaiting word that the fragrant, golden, crusty bread, just pulled from the oven, is cool enough to be eaten. The reference to being ‘screwed up anyway’ made me laugh because my brother and I always found the warped and funny side of our maniacal lives. This line reminds me that I am also thankful for creativity and imagination. “I bless the gift of creativity that my tormented forebears handed down to me.” Thank you!

  10. MaryL says

    Today’s Writing Prompt: How do you change when you are writing?

    I have been a writer since I was a little girl. Without question, I was quiet, serious, withdrawn, and had to go to places within to manage the chaos around me. Given an assignment, I could feel a tug, a freeing, as if I could fly. And I wrote well – clearly, with authority, with conviction.

    In eighth grade, I won a city-wide contest for the “Harvest Festival Prayer.” There was much fuss, an interview with the New Haven Register reporter, a public presentation of the prayer, a plague. The world took on a glow, as if the shadows were drawn back and the sky filled with delicate pinks and purples. For a shadow figure like me, it was like seeing the Northern Sky. I was confused by all the attention!

    I have written quite a few books for self-help. And I have worked very hard, often for regular periods each day, with an image of a completed book with my name below the title as a visual to keep me focused. I write carefully, correctly, and passionately. I always write to one reader, because I see writing as a conversation – intimate, precious, unique.

    My writing pulls together three aspects of who I am. I am a pacifist, and I fight with words. I am an empath, so compassion floats through my writing. I am able to work in the dark, that is, in the midst of depression and loneliness, as long as there’s little candlelight. I focus on the creation of something new and perhaps wonderful, even in the darkest times.

    What changes when I write? I am free. No one tells me what to write or not write. More and more, people do not tell me to keep quiet when I say something controversial … they actually listen. Writing is art and craft, and I am very disciplined about how the words come together. I don’t mind deleting a passage that doesn’t fit. I am not attached to my words.

    Sometimes I am asked to preach in church. I always tell a story. Everyone who has brushed against me has left a little imprint, and I like to weave together the meetings and the farewells and the waiting, so much waiting.

    I am not vain about what I consider to be a gift with conditions. If you don’t use something precious, you may lose it. I’m not overly compulsive about writing, but there is an emptiness that needs to be refilled. These weekly prompts are a treasured gift – nudging me to go deeper, and trust in the sharing process.

    Everything changes; nothing stays the same. I am like that, too.

    • Wendy says

      Mary L.,

      I see the precision and the care with which you use language. I am glad that you use your gift and that you understand it. Thank you.

      Wendy

    • says

      MaryL, I loved the clarity you demonstrate about the place writing holds in your life. I especially loved these lines, ” I always write to one reader, because I see writing as a conversation – intimate, precious, unique.”

      And this…”My writing pulls together three aspects of who I am. I am a pacifist, and I fight with words. I am an empath, so compassion floats through my writing. I am able to work in the dark, that is, in the midst of depression and loneliness, as long as there’s little candlelight. I focus on the creation of something new and perhaps wonderful, even in the darkest times.”

    • Hazel says

      Mary L
      I like this statement, “What changes when I write? I am free.” I agree, writing is the extension of my imagination, but that doesn’t mean that it cannot be very concrete. I like the matter of fact way you have stated how you feel as a writer. You own it.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Karla says

      I like the focus you describe, or the way you encourage yourself to focus on a larger project, such as a book, by imagining the completed book with your name below.

    • Judy says

      MaryL, as I read your focused and delightful piece, my eyes locked on this sentence, ” I always write to one reader, because I see writing as a conversation – intimate, precious, unique.” I read is several times before moving on to this line, “Everything changes; nothing stays the same. I am like that, too.” Deeply sensitive and insightful. Thank you for this lovely work.

    • Terry Gibson says

      MaryL., for me, that precision you speak about transforms this into a rich and loving mantra. An ode to the creative writing process as one of your gifts. Did I mention that I savour such things? Thanks!

  11. Kristen says

    When I write, I become extremely focused and intense. The outside world fades to white noise, and I live out the emotions of the piece on a grand scale. Tears, rage, and big, stupid grins are all common. But for me, writing is such a centering, internal act that it’s impossible to keep emotions from ripping through with much freer rein than they are usually given in my everyday life. Writing is, for me, an act of passionate labor that leaves me exhausted, but calm and filled.

    • Hazel says

      So much in so few words, ” I become extremely focused and intense.” I believe you. “The outside world fades to white noise, and I live out the emotions of the piece on a grand scale,” I got the picture! “Writing is, for me, an act of passionate labor that leaves me exhausted, but calm and filled.” The summation of this concise piece.

      Thank you for sharing.

  12. Shannon says

    I have found my writing to be very freeing. As I put pen to page, I have no idea of what will appear. I become excited and awe struck with the transformation that can happen with each sentence as it pours from my soul.

    I am breaking free of this prison that is called my mind. This story that I play out over & over in my head is much different as the ink splatters all over my notebook. I realize that I am not the person my mind likes to tell me that I am. I am much more than my mind can even imagine. I am one of God’s own creations. I am a marvelous being of divine inspiration. The page tells me so.

    I can be a creature of habit, and many of them are not the best. I can get stuck in my ways. I am new at this, so I am reminded to be gentle with myself. That is a beautiful change that my writing is bringing. I can be harsh and often judgmental, especially of me.

    I am learning to say no. No to the worries of if I will ever publish. Learning to say no to my mind that tells me to leave this all behind. I say no to the voice that says I’m not good enough, or that my story will turn others off. This is about self discovery, not about what others think.

    I look in the mirror and tell myself, “I love you unconditionally right now!!!”
    I love myself with all of my imperfections. All of my complications. All of my aspirations. All of my trials & tribulations. I love ALL of me. I especially love my mind that would only want me to play it safe in order to preserve oneself.

    My writing is transforming my relationship to my own self. This discovery mission that my pen and paper are uncovering is the most exciting journey I have ever been on!

    • says

      I love the line about your mind and also this: ”
      I am learning to say no. No to the worries of if I will ever publish. Learning to say no to my mind that tells me to leave this all behind. I say no to the voice that says I’m not good enough, or that my story will turn others off. This is about self discovery, not about what others think.” It’s exactly the pep talk that I gave my students this morning!

    • Hazel says

      You have named all the things that writing is doing for you and then you sum it up with: “My writing is transforming my relationship to my own self. This discovery mission that my pen and paper are uncovering is the most exciting journey I have ever been on!”

      In you next to last paragraph, the last sentence, ” I especially love my mind that would only want me to play it safe in order to preserve oneself.” you have changed the POV from your “I” voice (myself) to others with “oneself.”

      Thank you for sharing. Well done.

    • Judy says

      Shannon, What Laura & Hazel said and may I add how I love your summary: “This discovery mission that my pen and paper are uncovering is the most exciting journey I have ever been on!” I’m right there with you on this thought. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Mary says

    If I don’t write then I won’t become a writer. Such a simple statement yet so is if nothing changes, nothing changes. If I don’t write then I will not experience the change within, the connection I make.

    When I write I connect between the person that I am and the person that I want to be. The realist in me changes into the dreamer and the dreamer in me becomes the writer.
    It is then that the writer that brings me closer to the voice of my heart.

    With practice the space between the realist, the dreamer and the writer becomes smaller and smaller. With time I’m hoping that they will become as close to one another as possible without anyone getting lost. One cannot exist without the other.

    The realist keeps me in order, the dreamer gives me permission to explore and believe anything is possible and the writer can make it all happen.

    I am afraid of change but that is getting better mostly in part do to how I feel when I am writing. When writing I feel like a race horse that has just been let out of the starting gate. I begin to write fast and furious just like the thoroughbred gallops with abandon to the finish line. The realist knows who won the race, the dreamer wants to keep running and only the horse feels it’s passionate purpose with every gait. When I am writing it is the power in the words I feel that gives me the same passionate purpose. And that’s the change I have come to know and to rely on.

    • Hazel says

      Mary,
      I like the way your piece builds to the last passionate paragraph. Your metaphor of the horse race is wonderful. The conclusion is profound, ” When I am writing it is the power in the words I feel that gives me the same passionatie purpose. purpose. And that’s the change I have come to know and to rely on.”

      Thank you for sharing.

    • says

      Mary, I loved this. Especially your first line, “If I don’t write then I won’t become a writer.” And the follow-up later: “With practice the space between the realist, the dreamer and the writer becomes smaller and smaller.” But really, I love all the ideas you expressed here.

    • Judy says

      Mary, you hooked me with the powerful truth of your first line: “If I don’t write then I won’t become a writer.” And, I love the horse metaphor. Nicely done. Keep being a dream weaver and come back often.

  14. Judy says

    Writing as Transformation: How do you change when writing

    When I surrender to it, writing is an out of body experience.

    When I get out of the way, writing is a journey I don’t want to end; yet, I know when there are ‘just the right number of words.’

    When my mind, body and soul are in alignment, writing is effortless—when I over think, it is not.

    I revel in the freedom gained found, when I strike that ‘stream of gold.’

    I long for the times it is easy and effortless—and, I sense the differences.

    I gain strength and power when I speak my truth.

    And, it is my hope that others will as well.

    • Hazel says

      I could highlight the whole piece (except the last line) and re-post it here as what I liked, but I won’t. It is concise more poetry than prose with clear images, feelings I can relate to. You have taken me to that place where you write best.

      I am not sure how to take your last line. Do you mean that it is your hope that others will “gain strength and power” when you speak your truth? Or, do you mean that they “gain strength and power” when they speak their truth?

      I think it is the hope of all who write that others will gain something from what they’re writing. I don’t think you need to say that. I find myself doing it far to often. I believe it is one of those givens that perhaps we, as writers, should avoid.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Karla says

      My English teachers always told me that it wasn’t “correct” to write a one sentence paragraph, and certainly not an entire piece of them. Most writers I know say that you can break any rule you want, as long as it works.

      The structure of this worked really well for this piece; I felt that each sentence offered a sense of importance, as the singular one for each thought. And the language you used– it felt precise, crafted, reflective– but also natural, not the kind of “writing” Elmore Leonard warned against. (He said, if I am capturing it accurately, that you should rewrite everything that sounds like “writing”.

      http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/08/21/elmore-leonard-10-rules-of-writing/

    • Judy says

      Hazel & Karla, love you two. Thank you for the generous comments and critique. Most helpful, as is the Elmore Leonard link, Karla, which is now bookmarked.

      My ‘editor’ received a preview of the piece with two endings. I misunderstood and went with the one above. Here’s the one she liked: ‘And, let there be intrepid editors.’

      Lastly, the ‘infamous linguist’ Richard J. Daley, Chicago’s longtime Mayor, frequently mangled thoughts and words so badly that his press secretary often told the media, “Don’t print was he says, print what he means.” Words to live by, yes?

  15. Terry Gibson says

    How do you change when you are writing?

    With great difficulty. It depends on three vital points.

    Where am I writing? While on the Skytrain with hundreds of bodies—a few religiously unwashed–pressing against me, cutting off my air.

    Do I sit beside an attractive person in a tiny water taxi, which heaves against the Pacific en route to Granville Island?

    Perhaps I am in a meeting in the matchbox-sized grey Quaker’s church directly across from my place.

    How am I writing? The options are my phone, laptop, a pen, or using my best friend’s phone with the voice activated android assistant.

    Finally, am I switching jammies, earrings, or my new bra?

    • Judy says

      Terry, what a fun ramp on writing as transformative. Love how you put it out there ‘on three vital points.’ Love it from start to finish. That last line is scrumptious. Thank you for a delightful read.

    • Terry Gibson says

      This attempt at a funny post was my way of saying, I’m doing a bit better everyone! I am at home and I must thank you all so much for your gentle kindness and all-encompassing care! I will never forget it.

    • Hazel says

      Terry,
      Thank you for sharing this very amusing side of you. I love it. You’re right, a real writer would write in all of those places. I prefer “switching jammies.”

    • Karla says

      Terry, I thoroughly enjoyed this with its beautiful and quirky imagery. And I love your understated humor, and it also has an underlying sweetness that very much reminds me of your presence.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Thanks to everyone. I love hearing from you all and now will have the pleasure of reading your posts. Can hardly wait for my kettle to boil.

  16. Tony del Zompo says

    My mind is a crowded theater, set ablaze. Chaos ensues as people scramble for a way out. And writing is my own personal emergency exit.

    Writing is the bucket that I use to bail my boat as it fills with water. I once began a journal entitled “It’s Noisy in Here.” And it is. My head, that is. Noisy. But it’s not as bad as it used to be.

    Maybe it’s maturity, sobriety, or a decrease in testosterone. Or maybe it’s all of the above. But from time to time, however, I found myself in a state of angst that a workout just won’t fix. So, I pull out my journal. It’s then that the writing slows my mind or stops it dead in its tracks, and I alter my perspective entirely and find reprieve once more.

    Six years ago, I began my memoir. I had written three drafts, joined a writing group, hired an editor, and began to take the craft of writing seriously.

    After her last review, however, my editor told me that i had a well-written, compelling story, but that it “reeked” of self-pity. And revenge. She told me, bluntly, that no one wants to read a memoir like mine, and, in fact, it wasn’t yet a memoir. My next challenge was to learn the actual craft of memoir writing.

    I went back to the drawing board, and I was utterly ruthless with myself. I pruned, cut, and hacked away chunks of from my manuscript, with an eye for all things “woe is me.” And, that’s when the magic happened…

    When I completed the last draft, one step closer to a finished product, I straightened from my computer, took a breath, and realized that I was no longer a victim. “They” didn’t do it to me. No one else was responsible. The common denominator in all of my sorrow was me.

    I removed the victim from my story, and I removed the victim from my life. A new story emerged, a story worth telling.

    And that alone was worth the price of admission.

    • says

      Tony, I laughed when I read this. I shouldn’t have, but since I was the ruthless editor in the story, your depiction of me made me laugh. I love what you shared here–about your process and your point of view. I also love that you’re one of the few men who have braved to share their voices here. I’m so glad your perspective broadens our circle.

    • Mary says

      Hi Tony!
      Wow… removing the victim is so powerful. I loved the way it transformed not only your story but your life. Isn’t it amazing what happens when we don’t let ourselves get in our own way?!

    • Hazel says

      Ooops! Nail was hit precisely on the head again. “’They’ didn’t do it to me. No one else was responsible. The common denominator in all of my sorrow was me.” Jeez, Tony, do you have to be so blunt? Just kidding.

      The happy news is, “I removed the victim from my story, and I removed the victim from my life. A new story emerged, a story worth telling.”

      Thank you for sharing this insightful piece of writing and honest look at life.

    • Karla says

      Tony, I’m so glad that you had such a tough editor and that you have experienced the magic of reclaiming your story. I’m working on a memoir too, and I really appreciated that you shared this here, and that it turned out so well for you (and it’s a book I want to read). As much of your writing is, it’s inspirational and brave, and I can’t even imagine the courage it takes to hack away at a completed manuscript and accomplish what you have. Bravo ;)

    • Judy says

      Tony, wowgeez, what a powerful piece of writing. I loved it from start to finish and burst out laughing at your journal title, “It’s Noisy in Here.” I enjoy and admire your voice and will read your memoir. Thank you for sharing your journey in such well crafted writing.

    • Shannon says

      This was very powerful, Tony. Thank you for Sharing your experience. I feel like I learned something very important.

  17. Terry Gibson says

    Part II

    How do I change when I am writing?

    I become a person who knows with certainty that I am visible.

    My deeply rooted self-hatred takes a bit of a back seat when I witness myself. By word swapping, I force myself to see Terry as I would any undiscovered friend. Any lovable soul scarred by betrayal (including by self), powerlessness, hurt, isolation and little hope.

    Unwittingly, I make friends with people who find some thread of commonality with me, although their worlds may be radically opposite mine. We know society constructed those barriers and will attack and eventually jump those hurdles like foot high pommel horses. Writers discover and thread themselves together in deep, lasting friendships every day of their lives.

    Obviously, given my last week, I am not very adept at this. However, I cannot help but develop a bit of understanding and compassion for myself. That and some bewilderment as to why I see myself so radically different from how ninety per cent of the world views me.

    I realize that I am desperate to keep talking. To discover and reshape my understanding of the truth. To temper the emotions attached to memories and events with my broader knowledge base and, yes, I will say it, the wisdom of age.

    Finally, I must express myself fully. I need to share with people little tidbits of humour, information, hellos, sadness, joy, and Happy Birthdays.
    I want to know about them and get their input sometimes, as I am a lifelong student of everything.

    I must let them know how much I love and respect them, and how much gratitude I carry inside because of them—even when stated clumsily and out of nowhere.

    When writing, I transform by living as an ever-evolving human being and woman.

    • says

      Terry, so glad to see you here engaged and sharing with us. I loved this part of what you said the most, “My deeply rooted self-hatred takes a bit of a back seat when I witness myself. By word swapping, I force myself to see Terry as I would any undiscovered friend. Any lovable soul scarred by betrayal (including by self), powerlessness, hurt, isolation and little hope.”

      What can I say? I guess you have to keep writing. Doctor’s orders.

    • Mary says

      Hi Terry!
      What stood out for me was the line where you stated you are desperate to keep talking. Please do so. Talking, writing and sharing is all part of the healing process. Give yourself that gift :)

    • Hazel says

      Terry,
      I stopped and took notice of this sentence: “I become a person who knows with certainty that I am visible.” I have felt so many times that I was invisible. Here is a poem:

      UNVISIBLE

      I walk through time an adumbration;
      look through eyes that glimpse sketchy edges
      in the mirror. Behind the glasses­ vacancy.
      I move a soapy sponge over familiar contours
      each morning but the form alludes conception.

      On the web I am the warm and helpful web-mistress
      efficient, concerned behind the page. I get notes
      of praise for design and expression of inner thoughts
      in poems, still, few know who I am.

      Now, more than ever, a sense of separateness
      pervades as I see hands moving through routines,
      fixing dinner, arranging­ rearranging words.
      Is this schizophrenia, escape from reality,
      Alzheimer’s or a soul alone and lost?

      8/21/00

      • Terry Gibson says

        Hazel, thanks for your comments. Your poem is haunting and stirring in a way I can’t vocalize. I always appreciate what you share here and find myself returning again and again to let your verse saturate my cells. There’s no better way to start off a Friday evening.

      • Judy says

        This poem takes my breath away, Hazel. Back to an earlier time. The human condition deeply felt, acknowledged and bid adieu.

    • Karla says

      Terry, I really liked the way that you wrote here about the silencing that keeps you from seeing the real Terry, and the challenges that come from doing this work, especially this: “To discover and reshape my understanding of the truth. To temper the emotions attached to memories and events with my broader knowledge base and, yes, I will say it, the wisdom of age.” In my experience, reshaping and tempering come from digging into your “stuff” in the way that you have been– which seems paradoxical- that by getting closer you are able to create the distance between your past and your present, that little wedge that allows for your budding self compassion and letting go of what you no longer need. Have you read any of Pema Chodron or read it lately? I’m thinking particularly of When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. I think you might find that she describes what you are in the midst of working on, and it might feel encouraging and validating.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Karla, I am so happy to connect with you again. It is paradoxical. I like that too. Yes! I have been following Pema Chodron and am most fascinated by Gampos (which is, hopefully the right name of her Nova Scotia retreat). On my wishlist is a bit of time there to work, learn and befriend myself, so we (this me and the self-hating one) raise a truce flag, deciding to tolerate and share this body in a more productive way. I feel drawn back to When Things Fall Apart with a renewed enthusiasm since you mentioned it; I knew before that there was something there for me. Thanks so much. Can hardly wait to savour your posts now. :)

    • Judy says

      Terry, this well crafted sentence gave me great pause, “Writers discover and thread themselves together in deep, lasting friendships every day of their lives.” What a lovely, self-encouraging and truth filled wisdom you express in your craft. Keep writing, keep talking and posting here. Thank you for including us in this ‘thread.’ :)

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks Judy. I love how writers find each other. Thanks to Laura, Scotland, and me too (given I worked hard for it too), I am now enjoying a wonderful friendship with an Irish woman and author whom I met over a New Bold bonfire one night. It is pure joy to me and I feel so rich and blessed, despite my despair last week. Always happy to interact with and catch up with you, Judy. :)

    • Debbie says

      “When writing, I transform by living as an ever-evolving human being and woman.”
      This is a terrific line! Your post is like being invited in on a conversation and understanding the context immediately because you touch on common themes. Thanks for continuing to share your unique viewpoint with us all.

  18. Ilana says

    Wow! Talk About Writer’s Block!

    How interesting that this week’s prompt begins with a quote from a famous author that she sometimes has to force herself to write. I have been unable to write for two weeks now. It’s the first time this has happened to me since I got back to writing four years ago. Normally, writing is like breathing. I have to do it or I will die.

    Odd, too, that I use that phrase, “like breathing”. That’s something else I have been struggling with for a while. About a month ago I shared with you the frightening experience of being rushed to the emergency room because I could not breathe. After $6,000 worth of tests they found nothing out of the ordinary. Yet I was still struggling to breathe. Ativan, a very strong anti-anxiety medication, was the only thing that helped me get air into my lungs. We decided it was anxiety stemming from PTSD. I went on an anti-anxiety medication and for a while I was okay, okay but not really breathing freely most of the time. Then, last Saturday I was in a spin class with my husband and it hit me hard and fast. Not the low level labored breathing I had been doing on a regular basis but a full on attack, like that time I was rushed to the hospital.

    Zander took me out of the room where it was cooler. He wanted me to walk around the track but I was too weak to stand. We sat on the floor and I got dizzier and weaker. Twice I felt like I was going to pass out. My vision got dark and I started to fall. Zander pushed me back up to a sitting position and insisted I look him in the eye. Eventually and with the help of more medication, my breathing calmed. Completely drained, I slept for hours only to wake up with the same labored breathing I experience on a regular basis.

    This keeps happening to me and it’s getting worse. On Thursday, at temple no less, it was so bad my hands, feet and face went numb. Zander had to practically carry me to the car. This is really scary. It’s scaring my husband. I try to breathe quietly around him to keep it a secret when I am having problems. We constantly have to cancel plans and limit activities, often giving up things that mean a great deal to me. Exercise, for instance, is definitely out.

    But why writing? Why is it that I cannot find it in me to write? Is it connected to all the strain I am under? It must be but I just don’t understand it. After almost two years of being inspired by every single prompt last week’s didn’t even speak to me. It was one that should have grabbed a hold of me and not let me go until I had a piece of writing that drew me back to reread over and over again. Instead it left me cold. What a huge loss.

    The story goes on. With the help of a psychiatrist who is certain this is not psychosomatic I finally convinced my PCP to refer me for testing with an ear nose and throat doctor and then a pulmonologist. I don’t want to go into that now, though. I want to get back to the prompt.

    So what happens to me when I force myself to write? Well, I forced this piece and it is working out well. Perhaps it’s because I discussed something that seems to be taking over my life right now; or perhaps because once I started going it just took off. I hope it continues this way. Now that I am writing I feel empowered, free. That’s what writing changes for me. I still can’t breathe. I still can’t go to services or exercise class without risking another terrible episode. My days are filled with fear and an exhausting amount of energy spent trying to breathe calmly. But in this one way I am free.

    Force yourself to write? It’s such a foreign idea. Before now writing was an involuntary response to living, kind of like breathing, you know?

    • says

      I think you may have discovered one secret in this piece–write about what is immediate and compelling. When you can’t breathe, there is absolutely nothing more compelling than that. If you try to push aside what you are going through–which is severe and demands survival-level attention–to write about something else–you won’t be able to write. It’s okay to write about what you’re going through–and you may find that easier. So ignore the prompts for a while and just write about not finding air or the embarrassment or fear or whatever else you are feeling–and see where that takes you.

      P.S. I’m glad you’re getting checked out–keep us posted.

    • Terry Gibson says

      I am concerned about you Ilana but happy all is being looked into. I am happy to see you here and look forward to anything you write. Will watch for updates as well. Sending love to you.

    • Judy says

      Ilana, may I echo what others say here. Take care of your immediate needs. Your wonderful writing will flow again soon in sync with your effortless breathing.

    • Ilana says

      Laura, Terry, Adrienne and Judy- Thank you all so much for your encouragement. I look forward to next week when I will know what is wrong with me and hopefully find some relief. I am really struggling right now. You know that I normally respond to as many posts as I can, at the very least, those who have commented on my writing. This week I don’t think I’m going to make it. So sorry. Thank you again for your support. Will keep you all posted.
      Ilana

    • Polly says

      Ilana, kudos to you for forcing yourself to write and for getting this piece out. It’s more than I’ve been able to manage lately. I’m also very glad you’re getting checked out and I hope things improve for you really soon. Take care of you. P.

    • Debbie says

      Illana – Your last comment drew the apparent analogy. Writing is “like breathing”. You are having significant issues with your literal breathing – and maybe also with the metaphorical breathing as well. There is wisdom in Laura’s comment to just write – about whatever – to keep the “air” moving. Not being able to breathe is the most anxiety producing experience an human being can endure. I hope you find relief soon.

  19. Adrienne Drake says

    Writing for me is like yoga. When I sit down to write, the same stillness comes over me that I feel when I get ready for class.

    There is a certain ceremony in preparing for both: Picking up the pad and pen; laying down the mat and props. Finding a comfortable place to sit; settling into Sukasana. Placing my hands on the keys or my paper; placing my hands on my knees or my lap. Taking a deep breath; listening to my breath sounds. Slowing down the mind; slowing down the mind. It all starts to feel the same.

    Writing is like a walking meditation. Writing slows my pace. It allows me to invite the intensity of my past into the comfort of my now. All that has been digested and metabolized in the crucible of my reflection now has the opportunity to rest in the stillness and impartiality of the present moment. This is healing.

    Writing units my self (little ‘s’) with my Self (big ‘S’). CS Lewis said we read to know we are not alone, but when I write, I know I am not alone. When I write I feel connected to the infinite and the sublime, the magic and the mystery, the grace and synchronicity of life.

    • Hazel says

      Adrienne,
      ” When I write I feel connected to the infinite and the sublime, the magic and the mystery, the grace and synchronicity of life.” Last night I watched The Fabric of Time on PBS and was fascinated how Einstein came up with a formula that explains that we exist in many times: past, present, and future all at the same time. So, when you talk about the magic and mystery and synchronicity of life, I think sometimes we feel that existence in other times all at once and that is synchronicity. When I write, I know the Hazel that was is here allowing me to see the past so I may write it down as I saw it then. ?;) Does that make sense? Hmmm

      • Hazel says

        I wanted to thank you for sharing this evocative piece. I really enjoyed it and also, they said on that program that times does slow down and speed up, so that also makes sense.

    • Judy says

      Adrienne, exquisite writing. From the first word to this last sentence, ” When I write I feel connected to the infinite and the sublime, the magic and the mystery, the grace and synchronicity of life.” Uplifting and thank you for sharing.

      • Adrienne Drake says

        Thank you, Judy. I am glad that you found this uplifting. When I write, I have absolutely no idea if it will resonate with anyone other than me!
        ~Adrienne

        • Judy says

          Adrienne, When I hit enter to post a prompt, I hold my breath and wonder the same. My practices are qi gong/ tai qi and writing, so I was completely with you on this piece as you so beautifully compare your practices. Additionally, synchronicity is of great interest to me–I’ve taken public classes at the Jung Center for many years. As an old crone, It’s great to have the time to explore life’s magic. :)

          • Adrienne Drake says

            …and the older we get, the more there seems to be to be explored…. I will look up the Jung Center!

    • Karla says

      Reading this felt like a meditation to me. This line grabbed ahold of me, “It allows me to invite the intensity of my past into the comfort of my now.” An amazing way to translate the sometimes subtle benefit of the way that writing can be connect you more holistically to your life yet also allow you some distance from the emotional hooks. Thanks for posting, and I hope to see you back again.

      • Adrienne Drake says

        Dear Karla,
        Thank you for your kind words. Did you notice that I got a few of my ideas from your first post? The similarity of yoga and writing popped into my head while doing an enforced “walking mediatation” with my little mini-long-haired doxie since she lollygags along so slowly. ;-)
        ~Adrienne

  20. Debbie says

    Writing lets loose the tether
    That traps me in this earthly plane,
    Defies the gravity holding me heavy against the ground,
    And seeps past the membrane
    Surrounding muscle and bone.

    Insides are turned to outsides
    As secrets burst forth unbidden to claim life
    Dancing and twirling for all to see
    Without permission asked nor granted

    Past merges with future to create
    A more vibrant present
    The words transcending time and space
    Connecting us through common feelings
    Conjured by syllable and cadence

    By arranging, and rearranging, arbitrarily developed symbols
    Into words and sentences
    Wisdom can evolve
    Insights crafted from the debris of living
    Anguished lamenting of loves lost
    Piercing pain, so often self inflicted
    Or, shifting these notes ever so slightly
    Convey laughter, community, compassion.

    In writing, there is true freedom
    Unfettered by physical laws and relativity
    As young, as aged, as beautiful , as naïve
    As desired
    Limited only by the author’s daring and imagination
    Anything is possible
    The unimaginable is imagined,
    Captured to be shared.

    In the sharing, written words are broken into sounds
    Sounds reverberate out into energy
    Energy is absorbed, digested, passed on
    But changed.
    The writer and the audience
    Transforming each other.

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