Perils and Pleasures of the Creative Life

creativeI received this little book for Christmas called “Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life” by Dani Shapiro. I connected immediately with her experience of the writing life from an early age:
“I have been writing all my life. Growing up, I wrote in soft-covered journals, in spiral-bound notebooks, in diaries with locks and keys. I wrote love letters and lies, stories and missives. When I wasn’t writing, I was reading. And when I wasn’t writing or reading, I was staring out the window, lost in thought. Life was elsewhere–I was sure of it–and writing is what took me there. In my notebooks, I escaped an unhappy and lonely childhood. I tried to make sense of myself. I had no intention of becoming a writer. I didn’t know that becoming a writer was possible. Still, writing was what saved me. It presented me with a window into the infinite. It allowed me to create order out of chaos.”

Doing the memoir exercises in our recent Artist Way group brought me back to how energizing it was years ago when I first attempted writing short stories. I loved following inspiration and letting it run like a hooked fish to the end of the line. I would check collections out of the library, read and dissect them. I loved uncovering a turn of phrase, a description, a character marker, anything in the prose that highlighted what I was beginning to learn in my own writing and enlightened my ignorance. I admired these writers, but I also felt a sense of homecoming. This is where I belonged. This is the portal I entered as a child when I first picked up a book and stepped into an imaginary world and felt their magic igniting my brain, spirit and soul. I sensed even then the power, rightness and wisdom that came with slipping behind the veil. I had a sense of safety, of endless possibilities. I trusted that I was being held, guided, that I would learn things and experience worlds I never knew existed. Writing led me out of a confused childhood. It opened that “window” as Dani says in a stark room. Writing was and is my lifeline into the real world, even if by now it has allowed me live more in the world and less on the page. That’s a good thing. It’s what writing does. It seeps into your bones and lifts you high and carries you until you meet your true authentic self. Writing is the homecoming.

Don’t fear the blank page. Embrace it.

Kathy-Diane

 

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