On Being A Writer – Notice

The idea is notto live forever,but to(4)

“I began to pay attention to life instead of letting it slip through my fingers.”

The other day I attended a bridal shower for a young woman from my church. It was a beautifully rustic set up with wooden candle holders handcrafted from a burch on her sister’s property, burlap decorating the tables, hand crafted banners and wooden accessories. My favourite part of the whole set up was the tables. There was burlap on the tables and over this burlap were some beautiful lace tableclothes. We had just arrived so many people were just mingling about and no one had really claimed a place yet. I generally carry a large purse and want to get it out of the way when i’m chatting with friends, so I went to put it down. I decided on a table that had a beautiful old lace tablecloth on it, and put my purse down. A lady whom I’m familiar with came and asked if she could sit with me. I told her of course. And then mentioned that I had picked the table because I thought it was the most beautiful with the lace cloth on the table. She looked a bit taken aback and then looked down at the table, ‘Oh, I didn’t even notice she said.’

And it seems that I’m always noticing the little things. They don’t always register along time after, but I see them in the moment. Because truth be told if you were to present to me several different lace clothes today, i wouldn’t be able to tell you the exact pattern on that table. But in that moment, it was one of the things that really caught my eye. And I can give you a general rundown of how things were set up in the room and what was one each table and the decorations which were spread about. But I don’t particularly have a photographic memory..so while those details would be front and center to me while i’m in the midst of them, they won’t necessarily be committed to memory. I did take pictures of most things (thank goodness) and that is one way that I’ve attempted to keep some of the memories contained.

“Recalling allows me to draw from a reservoir of memories, those moments when I’ve noticed and retained something in the past – something worth revisiting and possibly writing about.”

I’ve always been afraid of losing information. I am a highly sensitive person which means that I take in alot of information in my sensory perception that some people. I also have a bit of an attention issue though i’ve not been diagnosed. So while I take in a tremendous amount if there is something that doesn’t fit in a scenerio, or an extreme temperature or noise, it will override all my other sensory input at that time. I may be looking at a beautiful painting, attempting to take it in, but there is a loud buzzing electrical sound somewhere in the room that is what is coursing through my mind, not anything to do with the painting.

“The things I notice become part of my story; my work becomes more memorable, more textured, more real. I become one of those people on whom nothing is lost.”

I’ve thus had to attempt to find other ways to capture these moments. Photography is one of them. that i can at least attempt to capture the moment for later. and hopefully provide as much detail as possible so that these little things can hopefully trigger things later for me. As well, i try to write down details. I have learned that being vague is not helpful for the way my brain works. At the moment i’ll know exactly what that little quip refers to and within an hour I can look back and have not a clue, so I’ve been working on being specific in noting what I notice and writing key words for recall later when I might want to further engage the topic.

“Examine all things intensely and relentlessly.” Annie Dillard

on being a writer

joining up over at Kate’s place to reflect on each chapter of this lovely book (click on the book above)

On Being a Writer – Surround

The idea is notto live forever,but to(1)

I have been a hoarder of ideas and words for as long as I can remember. I have a fear of forgetting things, so perhaps that is part of that. So I’ve taken copious notes in class (sometimes almost verbatim of what the teacher says) and I’ve tried to write down on slips of paper and in notebooks along the way, information that I thought may be useful one day or had spoken to me.

I’m not sure when it began, but I also began to write in my books (marginalia). It happened when there were books that ignited some reaction in me, something that I had to interact with (I believe that the first on that I really recall doing this was one of Noam Chomsky’s books). I have a great love for the discussion of politics, North American politics and foreign policy, so I had much to reflect on and react to in this book.

“Writing requires a flow both inward and outward of ideas, thoughts and stories. Each time I write an essay or an article, I gather together everything I know, think and experience about the topic, sorting and synthesizing, squeezing together bits of if inspiration and searching for just the right combination of words.” Charity Singleton Craig

I am a collector of things of beauty. A piece of fabric that catches my attention, a lotion that smells speaks of beauty to me, picture frames with my dear ones inside, letters from friends, collages that i’ve crafted and prints i’ve purchased that have spoken to me. In some ways they are inspiring to me, because they inhabit the space in which i now find myself. I live in my room at my parents house and my of ‘my’ things are in my room. There are prints on the walls, though not as many an I’d like. Some of the lovely fabric is hidden away for ‘later’ and many of my scented items are hidden away because my mom is allergic to many scents. So perhaps in some way this is stifling my creativity right now. I’m still creative, but don’t have these items readily available to glance at and be inspired by.

“Stephen Kings says, ‘Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.’ I believe it. I carry these words, these stories, these ideas and styles in me and they contribute to an ongoing, internal conversation that inspires and influences my writing life.” Ann Kroeker

The one thing that I can’t get enough of is reading. I have numerous blogs that I attempt to follow (mostly because I get lost in the beauty of the words and the vulnerability of their stories.) I have copious amounts of books on my Kindle (much to my chagrin i have indeed fallen prey to the e-book movement, but it is cheaper and i can have so many books on a little piece of technology.) Often if I enjoy a book immensely (ie. underline almost the entire thing) I will buy it in softcover form to further interact with it in writing.so much of what I’ve been reading lately has been written by individuals that I know personally or know of, and its been fascinating to read things that give a bit of background to what i’ve already read by them. I was also blessed to be part of a writing group last year, and was introduced to the writing of Natalie Goldburg (Writing down to the bones) and Marion Roach Smith (The Memoir Project), both of whom I’ve invested much time in perusing and interacting with on the page.

Two places that I’ve been constantly inspired and challenged to think and respond are the following resources:

Brainpickings  has all kinds of information on authors and books that you might not have heard of but are fascinating none the less. Its much like Wikipedia for me, you can get lost in all the amazing information, clicking from one article to the next. I love it.

also Claire De Boer who I discovered with her involvement with the online magazine SheLoves. Claire has a wonderful writing site , which has numerous articles that have inspired me to share my story and also how to work through some of the things keeping me from sharing.

on being a writer

On Being A Writer – Arrange

The idea is notto live forever,but to(2)

Its been awhile since I had a space of my own to claim for writing. These days the only accessible and available spot is the coffee table in our living room. I’m sure that moving the laptop between my room and the living room makes my mum frustrated sometimes, but my desk is full of things right now and it doesn’t ideally suit me for writing.

Having the computer readily accessible I find myself easily distracted by all the things I feel I need to read here on the internet, rather than sitting to write down to what I need to do. Strangely, if i were to go somewhere else to write… I would get distracted by all the people and sounds around me. This would also drain me, so I know better than to do that for myself. Although I think about it, and dream about what I’d ideally find myself working in. A small quiet space, with just enough light through the window, a comfortable desk and a cup of coffee or something sweet on the desk to sip on. At the moment its only in my imagination.

I find myself often inspired by words that jump off the page from someone else’s writing or things that I’ve heard that I have a strong reaction to. However, i generally don’t have a consolidated place to keep track of all these thoughts. i started writing my version of a bullet journal and its been a wonderful place to at least keep track of what I’ve been writing. There are still little snippets that I’ve missed out on…but I”m trying to make more of an effort to wrangle those thoughts on the page as well for later perusal.

“There isn’t any ‘right’ way to do such intensely personal work (as writing). There are all kinds of writers and all kinds of methods and any method that helps people say what they want  to say is the right method for them” – William Zinsser

As far as setting aside personal time to declare as writing time, at the moment I just have Thursday night set aside for the #fmfparty that takes place on Twitter and then the subsequent reading and writing that takes place after the prompt. I’ve not set aside any block of time throughout the week to specifically work on something that I’ve been thinking about. In fact, I’ve written much less in the past 6 months then I have previously. I’m not sure what has happened to my muse, she seems to have taken a hiatus. but mostly, I’m sure that its fear that has captured both my tongue and my writing.

Perhaps if I was to set aside particular moments of each day to sit down and at least write something down, anything down…I would work baby steps at moving towards opening myself up to share more of myself on here. I’m not sure. There have been so many thoughts I want to work through and I come to the page ready to work it through, and that is how I do work through life, through words, spoken or written. And these days I find it easier to hash things out with a couple close friends, perhaps because I know that there won’t be rejection for my thoughts. perhaps that is what I fear most. Being rejected. And that has caused me to be uncomfortable. And thus no matter where I find myself or what space I arrange for myself, until I work at being comfortable with my voice, with me…it might not matter how I arrange my work space or my day, because I’ll still not be moving forward.

“How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives” – Annie Dillard

On Being a Writer – Identity

The idea is notto live forever,but to(3)

One day, a friend that I met a couple of years ago at a retreat, started playing around with ink and watercolor and just happened to share the results on Facebook. I couldn’t believe that this picture I saw before me was something that she had just sketched out and then started painting. it was wonderful.

I put in the suggestion that if perhaps she wanted to sell some prints one day I’d be more than happy to help her out. She developed a couple other lovely prints and then began to sell them. Eventually, she used the money raised to get to Allume, a fantastic conference in the south. The print was a typewriter with the words ‘Writer’ fleshed out in typeset above it. It spoke to me about things that could be, about a word that I wished I could claim whole-heartedly.

“Questions fly when we wonder what to call ourselves. After the questions and the doubts come, hopefully so do the words.” – On Being a Writer; Kroeker & Craig

At the retreat where I attended several years earlier with this same girl, I had been seated at a table beginning to eat lunch and overheard a conversation that took place across the table from me. Two of the ladies had met previously at another conference and they were reintroducing themselves to one another. The one lady said, ‘I found your card the other day. And it brought me to tears. Because on the one side in bold letters you have the word ‘Writer’ and I so wanted to be able to claim that name. And so I have put your card up in front of my desk and each time I find myself listening to the lies about my writing, I look at your card and I claim that word and I begin to write.’ By the time she had finished this short paragraph I was in tears across the table…also because they had tears on their cheeks as well. I knew this heart cry. I knew this desire for something that would get me past the lies to the truth.

Several weeks later I received the print in the mail. She had done a beautiful job and decorated the outside of the envelope and inside the print was wrapped in some tissue paper and some rustic string. I couldn’t bring myself to open it. I set it on the shelf, with the words peaking through, just enough the let me see them, but to not have to let them influence my life too much. I was afraid. Afraid of opening the package and claiming the words that were there.

One day I expressed these fears to a friend. She challenged me with the following:
You write. You’re a writer. Just because you don’t write in a certain platform doesn’t matter. You write because God’s called you. There is something in you need to write. My writing looks different than other people. Frame that picture and put it up and CLAIM IT!”  – Kris Camealy

I took my print off the shelf, tucked it under my arm and marched myself over to Winners (like TJMaxx) and found myself a frame. And I put that print in the frame and then hung it up on the wall…right next to my bed. I see it when I wake up in the morning and when I got to bed at night.

And to be honest, it still seems to be something that gets under my skin. Because there are times that I don’t have a problem saying that ‘I write’ but saying ‘I’m a writer’ just seems so much harder to get past my lips. I think it’s because I am in awe of so many amazing blessings that I have in the writing of friends who are around me. I know some insanely gifted people. And yet what my friend said IS true…i don’t write like anyone else but me. i have been given words by God to work through my life, to share my thoughts with others, to ponder what is happening in this world and to learn things from others and there is nothing wrong with that. Just because my words don’t look like others, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the writer bone in me, the writer blood in my veins, the writer thoughts in my mind just chomping at the bit to be put down whether through keys or writing.

on being a writer

joining up with those over at Kate’s to walk through this book together. ‘On Being a Writer’ by Ann Kroeker and Charity Craig