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Archive for July, 2009

Word by Word

“You must always keep changing your process!” Maria Irene Fornes says. “Because there are two of you, one who wants to write and one who doesn’t. The one who wants to write has to keep fooling the one who doesn’t!”

This is from Heather Seller’s blog, Word by Word, which you must check out if you haven’t already. I’ve read all her books on writing plus I have her textbook, which I love, as well as her collection of stories “Georgia Under Water.” I’m thrilled to see that she has two new books coming out next year. Her memoir on living with face blindness is due out in the fall. “The Nighttime Novelist” will be published in the spring.

Sellers writes, “I worry too many writers write too fast. They master the basics of plot and character…they do everything “right” and still the book doesn’t get finished, or, worse, the book is finished but it doesn’t sell. No one wants to read it. My goal in this new craft book is to help new writers create a book that is beautiful and important and masterful and wild and real. Break the rules. Be weirder than you are right now. Write the book only you can write. It’s a slow and difficult process, but also the most rewarding work I’ve ever engaged in, writing a novel. I have a plan for tackling this work that allows more room for the unconscious mind and all its detours, a plan that involves focusing on how artist’s play, I’m eager to see what readers think!”

And I am eager to read it. I don’t buy many writing books anymore. I’ve discovered that the only real way to learn to write is to write. A lot. And read. A lot. But sometimes you need someone to shine a flashlight into the murky swamp of the creative process. Heather Sellers holds that light. She acknowledges that yeah, it’s messy and dark and hard but look here, she’s done it and it can be fun and wonderful and weird too. In one of her books she recommends that you select several writing guides in the form of books that you can return to again and again for motivation and inspiration. She is always one of the guides that I turn to as I navigate my way into and through a writing life.

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I’ve been thinking of updating this blog for awhile now but wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take it. Finally, I realized it’s not one blog, but two. Soon I will link you to my writing only blog. That blog will be the start of my “writing platform.” I’ll whine less about the lack of writing and focus more on the process of creating a writing life that will include the process of publishing at some point.

This blog is now all about the process of living a creative, rich, fully engaged life moment by moment. I spoke with my dad a few months ago about this. He was refinishing some furniture. Maybe upholstering it. As he described how he was going about this particular task, I commented that it sounded tedious. He agreed that it was, which was why it was so important to enjoy the process of doing it, otherwise, what was the point? Indeed.

If I had been a cartoon, a bright lightbulb would’ve glowed above my head. As a  kid I was able to live in the moment more frequently and enjoy the process of building a tent or fort, or reading a book that carried me away, or creating a fair for the neighborhood kids. It was less about the product and more about the process. Most adults reverse that and that’s where I’ve found myself, thus this new focus. Some processes you’ll read about in the future are: the process of meditation, yoga, exercise, letting go, parenting, reading, creating art, working through depression, growing up/older but mostly the process of living life each day with passion and awareness.

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