Process Notes

Zentangle #21  8-13-09

Finally got up the courage to start going through my two huge filing cabinets that stand against the back wall of my bedroom closet (it’s a very large space, almost an extra room). Also dug out a memory stick with nothing but poetry on it. Hit the mother lode in the top drawer of the second cabinet. Most of my class folders from college, including those from my four different semesters of Creative Writing Poetry. Exactly what I had hoped to find.

Went to college late, started when I was thirty-seven, and my first day there coincided with my youngest’s first day of kindergarten. The irony isn’t lost on me, it makes me laugh out loud. We were very much in the same exact place, except I drove myself to school, after watching her board a school bus with her much wiser fifteen month older sister. Yes,
I wished I’d had my sister with me.

What I found in those folders, besides the poem I had been looking for to fill that hole I mentioned last time, was the basics of my own writing process. There are as many as five different drafts for each piece. Many of them make huge cuts to the original writing, while others only change one or two words. I might have been a kindergartner in the classroom college scene, but I was old enough to comprehend that first time around is only a try-out and you build experience and knowledge by repeated applications. Practice, more and more practice.

Somewhere in that mother-lode, I also found a copy of the campus newspaper with one of my first poems published in it for winning first place in the first writing contest held at the University. That took place before the poetry writing classes and determined my strong and driven pursuit of learning how to do this stuff. The story of that experience can be found on the About Page of my poetry blog, here:

I didn’t know anything about poetry, so how could I win a Poetry Contest? Mainly through the help and support of a very kind man. And later, through those repeated drafts of practicing this craft of honing words. Those drafts were my own process notes. I never forgot how lost I felt when encountering that first section of poetry in my English 101 class. We’d dipped our fingertips in High School, and I was simply grateful to get through and out of it alive. It was a foreign language to me and I hated it because I loved words, language, music, and story-telling. This should have been easy for me, yet was anything but.

Last time I posted here about leaning in to listen to my own voice. These posts are very similar. They are process notes. We learn best from our own experience. So, although these posts have been done on the spur of the moment, they are me making a map of the current process I am involved in, writing a book of poetry. Putting all the pieces together, one at a time. Staying aware of the larger picture, while honing the individual and separate small pieces as best I can.

Who knows? Maybe there is another individual out there who needs to hear what I am in the process of doing. Maybe not the same, but a similar process, and needs an encouraging and supportive hand. I did.

Image is another early doodle done in pen and ink.

About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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4 Responses to Process Notes

  1. Sherry Marr says:

    This is so interesting, Elizabeth and I smile at the thought of you hitting the mother load in those cabinets………down the road, I see another chat about Process, how about you?? I got stuck this week in my forward-motion, but will get back at it this weekend. Nearly at the end of current project, whu-hoo. Then will start The Next. So much fun to know you are traveling the same path!

    Sherry, thanks for helping me get started and calming my stress and frustration. I couldn’t ask for a better companion and knew that the last time. Yes, I would enjoy another chat, especially about process and process notes.



  2. Double the starting age plus plus, and that’s how I started, so I know what you’ve been through.
    It’s making me wonder if blogging is bad for my poetry as I don’t go through nearly as much editing and re-writing as I did then.

    Thanks Viv, for the comments and the support. I worry about the same thing. Blogging seems to be both blessing and curse. The immediacy of that publish button seems to quicken the desire to write, but also shortens and somewhat curtails the process of putting it aside and letting it digest for a while. It is pretty much what I meant by learning both good and bad habits over the years. Going back through these much older pieces has certainly made me aware of that. I kept those college pieces because my teacher’s made notes for possible corrections. At the time, my first impulse was to argue with them. Now, I’m just grateful for how patient they were with me, lol.



  3. turntob says:


    I hope you won’t be too irritated by this, but I don’t know if you still get notifications of comments on older blog posts.

    I have a question about synchronicity and since you seem to know a lot about it, I wondered maybe you have some advice for me. I don’t want to seem to needy, so apologies if this comment comes off as demanding!

    It’s kind of a weird, confusing story: Almost a year ago, I wanted to become an actor and comedian, but I suffered from acne and I was really scared of getting terrible acne scars and not being able to become an actor and comedian because of the acne and the acne scars.

    After a while I convinced myself that that wasn’t true, and for a little while I was hopeful again, but then, after some time, I got really scared of getting disfigured! But only when I thought of pursuing my dreams – I’d imagine how it would be to be a comedian on stage while being disfigured and that thought scared me a lot. When I didn’t think about pursuing my dreams, the fear wasn’t there, which was really odd to me.

    I thought to myself: where does this irrational come from and why can’t I just rationalize that there’s a very small chance of it happening?

    Then i thought: wait, what if it’s a sign? A warning? That if I pursue following my dreams, I’m gonna get disfigured? Maybe the Universe is trying to warn me.

    This scared me even more and well, totally stopped me from following my dreams. I gave up.
    I started to ask for signs if this fear was a warning and not just anxiety, or intrusive thoughts or something and well after a few very very coincidental events I asked for signs in the form of coincidences – and that’s when they started happening a LOT. Confirmation, I thought.

    A year later I still am too scared to follow my dreams and I still do not know what to do.

    So, my question to you is: do you think it’s true? Was this feeling of fear a warning? Or is something else going on? The only thing there is to make me doubt that it’s a warning is that this fear came from the fear of acne, acne scars ruining my career etc.

    Sorry for the long story. I know this is a lot. Thanks for even reading it! 🙂

    Be Well! 🙂


    • 1sojournal says:

      Hi Turntob,
      sorry it took a while for me to respond. I’ve been busy elsewhere. The first thing I want to say is that I am not an expert of any kind. I am a writer, a former freelance writing instructor, and nothing else. What I do know is how synchronicity works in my own life, but that might not apply to anyone else. Please remember that what you read here is, for the most part, subjective: based in my own experience and limited wisdom.

      Now, as to a definition of synchronicity: Two or more different things (dreams, thoughts, memories, episodes, or experiences), coming together and creating what is often called an “Ah, huh, moment” of deeper understanding. It’s like a light bulb coming on in a dark room, revealing all the objects in that room in a much clearer and more defined form. I could give you countless examples from my own experience but I will choose only one. I had been experiencing some amount of depression, so had taken to doing naps, sleeping a lot and not caring about much of anything. Sort of sleep-walking through my existence.

      One afternoon, I was awakened by the sound of my father’s voice, calling my name. Dad had been dead for almost thirty years at the time. The important aspect was that there was an edge of anger to his voice. My father was not an angry man. He wanted nothing more than peace and was a gentle and sometimes wise individual. The voice had seemed to come from the basement of my small rented house, where my fishing equipment, as well as much of his, was stored. That brought back a flood of memories of good times spent with my Dad. But one in particular that wasn’t pleasant.

      In my late teens, I didn’t like getting up before sunrise, the time my father usually chose to go fishing. He’d have to wake me several times before I’d drag my butt out of that warm comfortable bed. He told me several times that if he had to keep waking me up, one day, he’d simply leave me behind. Cocky, I didn’t believe him and continued in my own lazy fashion. Until the morning I awoke to hear him reversing out of the driveway, leaving me alone and so terribly wounded. Needless to say, he never had to wake me more than once after that experience.

      Suddenly it all came together. I’d been escaping into sleep. So I had a dream of my father’s voice calling in out-of-character anger. The reality of the unused fishing equipment in my basement and that long ago memory of being left behind because I refused to get up and moving. I was in danger of being left behind while my own life went on without me at the wheel. I guess it was a wake-up call from my own subconscious mind. One I heeded and immediately began making changes that altered that go-nowhere path I had chosen because of fear and some negativity and rejection.

      For me, synchronicity doesn’t come when I look for it to happen. It only happens when I’m simply living my life and going about my usual business. That’s that startling light bulb affect of which I spoke earlier. It simply doesn’t work any other way. If I go looking for it, what I find is confirmation of my already preconceived notion of how things will work. In other words, I’m groping in the dark and find a familiar object that I already know is there. That’s not new nor is it a result of brighter lighting. It sounds to me like you went looking for your fear and found it.

      Most often I stumble on those moments of synchronicity while engaged in some form of creative activity or endeavor. That means my mind is fully engaged in self-expression. That could be writing, coloring, or making templates or images from doodling. I facilitate several blogs and they give me a lot of space to explore my own creative urges. I can only make some suggestions and of course, you are free to choose otherwise. You might try writing out a few comedic dialogues, working on them until they are satisfying, or try reading publicly at an open mic…doesn’t have to be your own poetry or writings…it could be something you’ve read that made an impression and might do so for someone else. And please remember, I’m not an expert. I can only tell you what I know from my own experience.

      Hope this helps, let me know,



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