Lately, I’ve been encouraging people to write.
A lot of this comes out of my experience as a person who writes often, and reaps the benefits of having lovely people like you read whatever it is I have to say. Heavy. Silly. Messy. It’s all out there. I suppose that’s one of the harder parts of writing; being vulnerable.
I love to empower people. I love getting the opportunity to share heart things, because most likely, it’s close to yours. That’s not easy.
It’s not easy telling people you are just divorced and terrified to date again or what it would be like to have another first kiss… Or that I try not to be seen by a person, regardless of how well I know them. These are a few of my not so favorite things.
As I sit on my bed, I have a notepad with a bunch of recipes and random crap that I might be working through. Right now, there is a packing list for my move further down South. There are also two books on writing and a few coins that must have fallen out of my pants as I lunge upon the bed every so often, laying my head down on the cool sheets.
Writing has always been to me, part soul-searching, part labor. It takes time to sit down and organize some sort of structure. Sometimes it’s easier when you set yourself up to write. Saying, “Oh, it’s Monday evening which means I’d like to publish something Tuesday morning..” Your body starts to itch with words. My tongue gets heavy. I get quiet and take a lot of deep breaths. It’s never easy to be vulnerable, or to put yourself out there and most likely not really get a response back.
Some things are also just duds. I have a list of them. Some are too scary. Some are just plain bad.
But that’s okay. Because you’re writing and that’s important.
You are sitting your ass down and you are placing one word after the next onto a blank white space.
You’re not going to be great at first, and it might take you ten years to find your voice. But your voice is the most important thing you can have. Experiences are prompts. As are trees and the bozo that flipped you off in traffic today. Having a rugged life doesn’t necessarily give you a free card to being a good writer.
I can’t listen to music and write. At least the kind with words. It jumbles me up and I start going astray and saying stuff I don’t mean. I think people can tell when this happens, or at least it’s obvious when I do.
I am my own worst enemy with this stuff.
I don’t often write in complete sentences, because that is my voice. That is my headspace.
I pass by books all the time that people have written, and that we have forgotten. Only a rare few go down in history. Timing, mostly. But all these people tried at the very beginning. That’s all they were doing. Writing about bull fighting in Spain or the green light that taunted Gatsby.
I realize I am getting ahead of myself here. I have not been published. I have written a lot for other people. I am not an authority, but as it is something I’m learning to do myself, I find it helpful when people share their process. I also love talking about writing with other people who write. Like anyone you share a craft with, it’s important to challenge each other.
Like starting out with something really, terribly raw. And then picking at it, and putting flesh on it. I like to cannonball into it, if you will. It helps me break down the things in my head. Humor is always helpful. So are pictures and keeping your word count to about 500. Honestly, unless you really know the person, most folks aren’t reading past 300 words. Big paragraphs are hard for us with short attention spans. (Or should I say folks of my generation with six-second attention spans)
Keep it clean. Your blog layout, that is. Cuss however you want. I cuss a lot in my head. Kitchen life has given me a decent vocabulary, for sure. Use it when appropriate. Sometimes, a properly placed cuss word can bring the house down.
Keep it close to you. Write to maybe one or two people. Otherwise, trying to impress a lot of people, like life, you will find yourself being stretched too thin. Keep it tight and start by exploring your own soul, because there’s so much in there.
It is endless.
I want to end this with Fitzgerald’s last paragraph in the Great Gatsby, because it gives me chills. It has such a wonderful rhythm and is just so hauntingly beautiful. I want to imagine what he felt like after he wrote it, just knowing he nailed the ending to one of this century’s most beloved works.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch our arms out farther…And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.