“When I don’t write, I get grumpy,” said a woman in the Memoir Writing Retreat. (Whatcom Community College, www.wcc.org) That friend speaks my mind, as Quakers say.
On Saturday, I found myself among a group of like-minded story-tellers. Led by Susan Colleen Brown, we wrote our way through a string of exercises, loosening up our writing muscles, making plans to keep doing so. The final exercise was making a writing calendar for February. Today is the day to post another blogspot piece, so, here I am, in my morning hour before I set off to give care.
“The more you write, the more you write.” This came from Susan, who was an inspirational instructor. www.littlefarminthefoothills.com
The more I write… this seems true. Sometimes I fear writing too much, edging onto an infinitesimal edge where all I do is write while the rest of my life goes to hell. So, I link my “real” life and my word life, usually quite automatically. Writing is thinking, and doing it brings fruit. For example, as of two minutes ago, I have a new way to answer the employment question. What do I do? Instead of saying “I am a caregiver,” I may begin saying “I give care.”
One of Susan’s favorite tools is the clustering mind map method, getting out of the sentence and paragraph mode, and drawing as lily pads in the pond, or a trail through a forest, using circles, arrows, miscellaneous symbols and drawings, (and color!) a picture of what we want to write. This right brain activity can lead to interesting discoveries and help to organize what lies within, trying to find its way out into words.
Saturday’s writing exercises kept taking me back to the novel in progress where my writer brain lives lately. Yesterday I finished writing the most difficult chapter so far. Jack and Libby’s duke-it-out final scene, words to make a shy girl nervous, lots of the ones ending in –king… But, by the end of the retreat, I did make a lovely map for the memoir that is my next project. Hearts on the page and a treble cleff. Heart Song.
Talking about this kind of art to writing work reminded me of drawing I did to help me visualize and write the final scene in my novel FANS. I mentioned in last weeks’ blog that I knew I was not a graphic artist by third grade. Here’s the proof. It would not be an off guess, but no, I did not draw this in third grade, but when I was forty!
“If I weren’t writing, I might go crazy,” said my elder writer friend the other night. And then, with that wise elder humor that is so hard to describe but which I refuse to reduce to “a twinkle in her eye,” she said, “but, I might go crazy, anyway.” We might. But it will be with pen, or maybe crayon, in hand.