Each of them is a doorway that will lead you inside of yourself. Each one is an invitation to explore a little more of the puzzle that is you, by writing down your thoughts, responses and feelings. They stand near that place where you might catch a whisper of your own soul asking to be heard and listened to. That whisper is as soft as the sound of a pen on paper. Your purpose is not to tell, but to listen and write down what you hear. In the act of listening and writing it down, you set your soul free. Free to express some of its deepest desires.
From The Spider’s Desk
This is from the first page of a small writer’s zine I published for a couple of years, some time ago. This particular issue was put together in July of 2001. I had the occasion to go looking for it, because I’d been reminded of something else that was in it, during a conversation. But, when I opened it up, I found this logo and an article I had written, that somehow seemed very appropriate for here, today. So, I am going to reprint, in part, some of the article.
Writing is a natural bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain. The Left Brain function is logic, analytical reasoning, and language. The Right Brain is the center of imagination, intuition, and creativity. Usually, one side is dominant and easily ignores the other. Most of us have been trained to ignore or dismiss the more fanciful creations of the Right Brain (“Why would you write poems, you’ll starve to death, get a real job…you can doodle those sketches, or whatever, in your spare time, it’ll never be more than a hobby, anyway…”).
We live in a Logic dominated society. So much so, that the issue of creativity has lots of falsehoods, often called myths, attached to it. Subjective knowledge is often called into question as being far less reliable and valuable than its objective counter-point (“Most people who are artists are that because they are a bit daft, crazy, and just can’t make it in the ‘real’ world”).
But, reality is, the very fact that they are counter-points, one to another, means they are meant to balance one another, not struggle, or be locked into a life-long battle that only leads to exhaustion, frustration, and perhaps depression or despair. Ideally, the two should stand side by side and work together. If they don’t, the individual is left with only a half view of himself, or her world. In essence, the individual is split in two and “never the twain shall meet.” Not a pretty or even desirable picture.
Let’s go back to the bridge which can connect these two often opposing forces within us. Writing. When we write we use words and words are language. That’s a Left Brain function. However, we seldom think in words. Rather, we see images and sense things that we then interpret into words. Those images and sense messages are the function of the Right Brain.
Are you getting this? Write it down. In the act of doing so, you will be using the functions of both sides of your brain and moving one step closer to wholeness. Each time you write, you are actually laying down another brick in that connective bridge. Each brick, in turn, gives you that much more solid ground to stand on.
It all sounds so simple. It is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Having been a writing instructor, I am only too familiar with phrases like: “But, I don’t know what to write. I can’t spell. My grammar is atrocious and who in the world would want to hear anything I might have to say anyway?” And any one of them, all of them, are simply excuses for not building that bridge. Bridge building is work.
Clue number one: If you are reading this, you can write and are a writer. Big leap there, right? Wrong. If you have enough education to understand the words I am making here, then you yourself can write them. That’s what we learned how to do back in grade school. We learned how to make language in written form. Back when the two hemispheres might have been better connected. Afterall, words are letters (language = Left Brain), and letters are symbols we recognize only in the Right side of Brain.
Most of us have stayed on the reading side of that education, neglecting the writing side for various reasons, most of which come down to fear of exposing ourselves to whatever the rest of the world might think. That doesn’t mean we don’t know how. It does mean we are probably out of practice. Guess what? The more you practice, the more it comes back up to the surface and becomes easier to do. I am practicing right now.
Natalie Goldberg, author of the classic book about writing, Writing Down the Bones, says that all writing is simply practice. Like any other discipline, the more you do it the easier it becomes. And twenty or thirty minutes of journal writing not only keeps it private (not exposed, but by choice), but is not a lot to do if it ends up in wholeness and an awareness of ones own soul.
I personally believe that the river that flows beneath that connective bridge is the Soul. Listen closely, can you hear its constant movement as it swirls around the boulders that attempt to block its passage, laughing and chuckling at its own ability to slide around what stands in its path, while nurturing the life within its liquid richness and the land masses that create its boundaries: the heart (Right Brain) and the mind (Left)? Hopefully, you will listen with both sides of your brain, respond in writing, and continue to do more of the same. What have you got to lose? Your soul?
You mentioned Natalie Goldberg. I too own Writing Down the Bones. I even heard her speak once. However, if you think about it seriously, what has Natalie Goldberg written beyond books on how to write? And she makes a heck of a lot of money giving workshops. Telling others how to write. Cynic that I am, I believe she has found what works for her. And a way to make money.
She also wrote a novel, the title of which escapes me at the moment, something about Banana Rose. But, that aside, yes she found her niche and is successful at what she does. She writes from her own experience as do I and you, but she has a particular message and I think she has done more to get people on the page than almost anyone else. When I would lead classes that used her text, I could always count on a large group of people, completely into writing, curious about the content, and ready for long deep discussions, but also ready to argue if need be.
And this blog is especially dedicated to a very similar message to the one she propogates. She’s famous and makes a whole lot of money. I’m not and don’t have any to speak of. But, we each fill a particular niche, as do you. I couldn’t handle the fame, far too comfortable right where I’m at. And probably wouldn’t know what to do with the money, once I bought a new computer and car, lol. I’d still continue to do exactly what I do. Who knows, I don’t envy her the responsibility and obligations, and she might own a personality that does. Then maybe, she might envy the freedom I feel about what I do, or not.
What I wrote before and after I mentioned her name, still remains my truth, a truth I wouldn’t have found if I hadn’t read what she had to say and took away the pieces and parts that made the most sense to me, while leaving the rest to others. Her take on daily, ongoing practice simply underlines what I have written. And by the way, I used to teach Julia Cameron’s stuff as well, I didn’t limit myself when it came to how to do this thing I love more than any other.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss all of this Mary, I’m so glad you are a frequent visitor here,
Thanks for your comments Elizabeth. I am glad you found your truth, as I found my truth. I don’t think anything much happened with Banana Rose. Cynical me thinks with all her knowledge of how one should write, it should have been a best seller. I too enjoy Natalie Goldberg writing, but with all of her theory she has not been able to do much with it other than to teach others to write. I should keep my mouth shut. LOL. Many of these people have things that we can learn from. Julia Cameron too. I’ve read one of her books. Good stuff. But there is an economically struggling unrenowned poet named Karen that I have learned a lot from too! Teachers are everywhere if we are open to them.
Precisely, we each need many teachers, and if Julia and Natalie, spend their days teaching then that is a good thing. I, too have had many teachers and count among them some of my students who had no intention of spending a life time writing anything, but were just curious. Some of them stayed because they found something that worked. Others left and went on to find other things that satisfied them evem more. They didn’t count my classes a waste of time, and I didn’t look at them as failures. We must each follow our own path, but thank goodness that those paths sometimes intersect and we learn from the oddest sources.
And maybe Natalie was only ever intended to teach others. That’s not a bad or useless purpose in my book, lol.
Outstanding. It’s a shame that fear inhibits us so much.
Hello Mama Zen, I love your ID. And yes, I agree especially about this one because it teaches us to fear ourselves, and some of the most healthy and health giving aspects built into our systems.
When we mistrust what lives within our own persons, we are then forced to seek outside of ourselves for whatever help we might need. That makes us dependent on others to know what is best for us, and although they might have some of that information, and may even be able to help on some levels, no one can know me better than I know myself.
And it simply enhances the concept that I am a mistery that can never truly be known. One that can’t be trusted, or even helpful in my own process. And that, in turn, makes me no more than a lump of impulse waiting for something outside of myself to poke me and get me moving in whatever direction that other something might choose. Not my idea of life.
Thanks for stopping and dropping your two cents worth, lol. Hope you are having a Zen filled day,
Just as a note on Natalie Goldberg (who I read in high school creative writing class and who had a profound impact on me), my impression is that she writes a lot without wanting – or needing, really – to get published. Plenty of people write stories and novels and poems purely for themselves, whether out of shyness or just not needing/wanting to be published… hell, Gone with the Wind almost never made it to the shelves. William Carlos Williams wrote beautiful poems and still worked as a doctor until the end of his life. Bestsellers do not a writer make. 🙂
Anyway, that aside… why did you stop your zine?? If it had essays like this (which was fascinating to read, by the way), I say you should start it up again!
Hi Joseph, and thank you much for your comments. I agree with you about Goldberg. And, as I pointed out above, she was aimed at getting people on the page, the same basic idea that informs this blog. Publishing is a whole other headache.
I have been published, both prose and poetry. And, at best, it’s a crapshoot. I once waited for well over a year to hear if one of my poems had been accepted, only to receive a letter telling me what a wonderful piece of writing it was, but they were sorry because it had only made it to the top ten percent of all of the submissions they had received. And that was only one out of how many others I didn’t count.
I recently had an email from a fellow poet, who said that the Internet has changed the entire field of publishing. And I agree. This is far more immediate, and thus satisfying than the other. Of course that also means that one takes a chance everytime one clicks on a site. But, I also have a theory about that. When, as you said, a person writes simply because they love that action, that ‘heart’ of the matter shows through. There are thousands of really good writers out there, and if one likes reading, one can find them.
As far as the zine goes, it was fun and a hell of a lot of work because we put it together ourselves,including printing, folding, and saddle stapling each copy. But, then my computer crashed and I was without one for just over a year. Didn’t have the financial stability to do it anymore. And my techie found other things she wanted to do and could get paid far better for doing.
I would put the pages together in the order intended, and she would manage the measurements and layouts, as well as any images, as they would appear on the pages. And she was good and fast. In other words, it all sort of fell apart and we simply couldn’t go forward. It is what happens with most home-centered zines. Sad, but very real.
However, I now run four blogs. This is the one most dedicated to that logic and linear thinking element. I also run another, mostly prose blog called Intuitive Paths that is dedicated to articles about Mythology and Symbolism, Synchronicity and such, which is far more Right Brain oriented. And the other two are majorically poetry, music, and art, which is the result of those two hemispheres working together. All of them, in fact, sort of replace the zine and cover much of what was in its pages.
I still retain a storage box full of the issues of the zine, and plan on doing more of what I did in this essay, go back, and rework some of those articles and reprint them here and on my other blogs. When I look back on my own personal journey, it all makes sense and leads right here,to this present place where I am.
Very glad you enjoyed the article, I find the connective links within it to simply be enhanced, over time, and as I go right on practicing.
pass to 1 to 10 friends..