Apr 19, 2010

On Forgetting Myself

I am sitting on the back porch looking out over the meadow behind our house. The sun is high in the sky, its heat tempered by a light breeze. A couple of Grackles are swinging on my suet feeder, stealing grub I had in mind for that elusive Flicker that visits occasionally. I should shoo them away. But I sit. The scent from the lilac bush tickles my nose, its heady perfume not quite full strength--the clusters of tiny flowers having not yet opened entirely. In the quiet I think I hear the whisper of petals unfolding.

When the wind picks up, the air is dappled white as the apple tree sheds her glory. I picture the hand of The One Who Holds Everything gently tipping a giant salt shaker as petals surf the breeze around me, seasoning this day. Or is it sugar, these white flecks? It must be sugar. Because the sweetness of the moment falls on me like so many petals on the wind.

This is where I am.

The first trick, the one I am practicing now, is to just start where you are. It’s a luxury to be in the mood to write. It’s a blessing but it’s not a necessity. Writing is like breathing, it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.


Indeed.

Today we begin our book club discussion on The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron.

These are her first words of invitation: Start where you are.

We read the first three chapters this week, but Cameron had me on page one.

Start where you are.


Oftentimes, isn’t starting the hardest part?

And yet, when I sat down to do our first Initiation Tool exercise, Begin, my creative brain was awakened.

Begin where you are—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Write about anything and everything that crosses your mind.


As I opened my eyes, as I listened, as I turned my attention inward…longing took hold. Memories flooded, ideas presented themselves…and I wanted to write.

I made a list of story ideas in the margin.

Writing is about getting something down, not about thinking something up.

In these three chapters she encourages us to Just Do It, to rethink the notions we have about writing, and to listen to life.

Forget yourself, Cameron quotes Henry Miller as saying.

When we forget ourselves, when we let go of being good and settle into just being a writer, we begin to have the experience of writing through us. We retire as the self-conscious author and become something else—the vehicle for self-expression. When we are just the vehicle, the storyteller and not the point of the story, we often write very well—we certainly write more easily.

It worked for me. How about you? What spoke to you in these three chapters?

Next week we’ll discuss three more chapters: The Time Lie through Bad Writing. See you there. It’s not too late to jump in!

Related posts:

Glynn's The Right to Write: Beginnings

LL's Let Yourself Write

Lyla's The Art of Taking Dictation

Monica's Book Club: The Right to Write

Louise's An Automatic Response

Nancy's Let's Write

nancy's ready...set

Marilyn's Book Club

Erin's Just Writing

Cassandra's In the Quiet

Darlene's How God Expects Us to Run

Eric's To Begin and to Begin Again

'Begin', photo by Laura Boggess, used with permission. Post by Laura too.

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