5 Lessons Learned: Week 5

Quill and Ink

  1. My memory is releasing so much detail but am unable to write in the right voice, or from the right point of view. Often I start remembering with my adult perspective and it seems empty. Without personality. This may lead to me switching automatically to my child’s voice but not always. If I do switch automatically I feel much better about what I have written. If I don’t I can’t seem to ignore it. My writing stops. I basically slam my pen to paper and drop my book on the floor. I can’t seem to force the voice. Do I keep trying? Get a cup of tea and see if that little girl will come back if I am not so insistent with her?
  2. I can’t seem to capture the essence that surrounds me as a child. Perhaps this is due at least in part to my struggle with voice. I write and the words still feel empty. There was a feeling around me as a child and I can’t seem to get that feeling on paper. I do not know what words to use to describe it.
  3. Memory has been a great gift. Now that I am up and running I am remembering more and more detail rather than memories of events. I am remembering everyday situations: my sisters and I washing dishes, the ritual of arguing with dad to go have a nap while we took care of clean up; Dad hauling water and the way the cellar door would rest against the annex stove and how we always called out to every one that the cellar door was open so no one would fall in. What are these memories without the senses? Well they have kicked in too.  I recall the sound the fan made when you hit the light switch in the bathroom. It roared so loud drowning out the noisy kitchen in the mornings. I remember the feel of the oily tea towels that we could never clean no matter how hard we tried. (I still don’t know what was wrong there. Must have been the water.) The smell of raw earth from the cellar and the cool, thick, heavy metal ring that served as the cellar door handle. I am rambling but in many ways I can go right back there. Yet a feeling is missing. The essence of a story is missing.
  4. An idea that my identity may rest in these everyday acts and things.
  5. I have cooked my brain. There is steam coming out of my ears and smoke through my nose. I gotta take a break. Let it power down and return. Maybe work on something else for a spell?

Need Some Writing Inspiration?

I have a bit of a fascination with Virginia Woolf.  Someday I would really like to study her.  She is fascinating to me although I must confess I do find her writing to be a challenge to read.

A while ago I stumbled upon a book written by Danell Jones titled The Virginia Woolf Writer’s Workshop: Seven Lessons to Inspire Great Writing. I thought I would share with you a smidge of her chapter, or lesson, on being creative.  It has been on my mind lately and according to this chapter, I should write about it.

The chapter begins with Virginia ending her lesson asking the students to bring something to share with the class next time.  The students are confused and are wanting more direction from her.  They want to know what they should write.

Woolf sits back in her chair.  “Write exactly as you think – that is the only way,” she wants to say.  But perhaps they would understand it better if she described a kind of experience, a kind of sensation.

“Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day,” she begins. “The mind receives a myriad impressions – trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel.  Lets us.” she continues, “record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern.”

The students are curious.  Should they write about consciousness?

What I am saying is that “writers are infinitely sensitive;  each writer has a different sensibility.”  Just as we each perceive the world according to our capacity, she wants to tell them, so, too, we must write according to our vision.  But we cannot do that unless we resolve to be true to ourselves and not imitators of others.”

Perhaps that is enough of me copying.  I felt so inspired by the words and could almost feel Mrs. Woolf present in the book.  Of course not knowing Virginia personally I could not possibly know if the author portrayed her correctly but I did put the book down feeling as if I did know her, Virginia or a bit of the author I can not be sure.  But I know her.

I hope you feel inspired to “write exactly as you think” and to honour what you have to say.  We need your view of the world!