Like many people, most of my thinking is in words or perhaps impressions of words which describe reactions, responses, states of being, or partial feelings, or clear emotional states about the world around me. When I am not thinking in words, I think in images that at some point in time become transitioned into words because, well, because I write.
Sometimes what I write is a single word on a big piece of paper. Sometimes it is fully formed sentences. Sometimes that writing has turned into business plans, organizational stuff, articles, ads, brochures, advertising, annual reports, speeches and white papers. Sometimes, that writing has turned into the stuff that lands in these blog posts.
Othertimes there is nothing. No writing: a huge breakwater surfaces between me and the alphabet that I might use to form words that I can look at and say to myself, I have written. It is outside of me now. All is well in the world.
I have not been writing, so all is not quite well in my world.
I look at the shelves of books I have about writing. I got lots. I even look at my notes from the three writing classes I have taken over the years. I’ve gone trawling the internet. This writering business has no lack of advice givers, that’s for sure. Lots of people want to write, so virtually every field has writing advice givers. Even the cults of process and project management have looked at article writing, dissected it and chunked it into a fascinating flow chart. Can you trust anything that confuses two distinctly different words: ARE with OUR? I could SO grrrrr!
People of the process and project management tribes listen up: SPELLCHECK does NOT NOT NOT replace proofreading!
Because the flow chart is beyond silly I might be tempted to dismiss it but in truth, all technical, non-fiction, academic, scientific and news/media public relations, marketing and grant writing as well as sonnet writing, limericks and haiku are written to formula.
Some might say creative writing also has a formula: perhaps. The thing with writing is to do it. Here’s the formula: Start, go to the end, edit, edit, redraft and edit, finish a compelling story with compelling characters that somehow affect the readers. ANY good writing does that. Whether you are writing about genetic sequences, moon rockets, displaced monkeys, mortgage rates or time travel.
Some writers of the creative writing genre start with the ending of the story all figured out and write about how that ending came to be. Others just open a door in their mind and in walk a cast of characters ready to live out the story so the writer can write it. All that creativity astounds me.
There is that school of thought about creativity that says you can do naked rain dances to call upon the gods and spirit dogs of creativity to zap your brain and give you inspiration. I am not a fan of naked rain dances which is probably why I do not do creative writing.
There is also a school of thought that goes something like this: all the major thematic stories about what it is to be human — the human condition so to speak — are contained in the Bible or Shakespeare — and that all writing are simply variations on a theme with unique perspectives.
When I can’t write and I am done retreating into all the books and music and art I can possibly absorb; when I am done eavesdropping on conversations in places that I might go to where people talk too loud; when I am done with all that and retreat completely into the celtic knots of wondering to stare with some dispassion at the breakwater that stands between me and writing, I read poetry. Lots of it. Some bad. Some good. Sometimes the same poems over and over. On occasion I will even write a poem or two. With a pen and in cursive writing.
I am now at the point of pulling down all my poetry books and going through them because this spell of not writing is not fun. If I thought a naked rain dance would help I MIGHT even consider doing one late at night when I can find the moonbeams in the back sunroom of the house and all the neighbours’ lights are out.
Truth is this the act of writing, writering, and then turning it into GOOD writing is not a walk in any park on any planet. I sometimes wonder whether a writer’s mind is ever turned to low, and that perhaps an inability to write for a while is the mind’s way of saying that this dearth of words is brought to you by the inner self who wants to say: Hello, you, writering person. STOP staring at the blank page. TAKE A BREAK!!!
So, I have not yet written a poem. However, here’s one just for fun, because it’s Spring and it’s by an early word and grammar and punctuation non-conformist (NOT old Gertie) so all splintered words and wacky punctuation are intentional.
because it’s by e. e. Cummings
dare to do people
the other way
Lives lead their own
is that you &
i are more than you
e It’s we)