Zen, the Turtle and Write

Zen. I love the sound of it on my tongue. I have placed a Zen area in my yard, to sit and think, relax and meditate. This Zen feeling I get- call it euphoria or peace, has helped me get through a summer filled with exciting new experiences, lessons to be learned, and just living in the moment. I sit at my desk this morning, drinking a glass of Pinot Gregio– yes, it’s morning, but nearly noon, and I have realized that it’s time for another post. Ideas have been flooding in from everywhere, and I really don’t know which topic I want to discuss, so I’ll just continue my morning sips of wine, and like a Zen feeling, see where it takes me.

I hate giving the impression that I am some type of writing guru, a know it all, a somebody who loves to give advice. That’s not who I am. I hate following the stream of other bloggers who always seem to come up with the same ideas at the same time. I don’t want to exert my ideas as being the “true source” in any blog or conversation.

Lately I have taken up the book, Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. It is a book I had to read twenty years ago in my creative writing class in college. I recommend this book to anyone who is a writer of any type of genre. We all have problems coming up with ideas for our writing. We aren’t prepared for those times of emptiness in our writing well of thoughts and ideas. It always comes as a shock to me when there seems to be nothing I want to write about. What have I done during those times of dry spells is not do anything. I beat myself up,or get very creative in ways to convince myself that I don’t need to write at the moment. I procrastinate like a the slowest turtle who just barely takes one step in front of the other. Like the turtle, I don’t get too far.

So what can we do if ideas or creativity starts to run dry?
Here are a few suggestions I have taken from Natalie’s book that you might find helpful.

1.Meet with a writing friend or friends for coffee to share what you have been writing. With the ease of email, a meeting isn’t required, but it is much nicer to get out with your writing and your friend. When I do this it does spur me on to have something to share.

2. Start or join a writer’s group. Natalie lived in Taos,New Mexico, so there was never a shortage of writers, but in your area or mine, they aren’t always so easy to find. You may want to contact your local bookstore or library to find out where they are located. If there are none, start one! I’m in a wonderful group- The Shelby Writer’s Group- and together we share, critique and just enjoy the time spent with other writers. I hate to use the word TRIBE as it is so overused for running with like-minded people, but I have to relent and say they are my “Tribe”.

3. Treat yourself! Don’t beat yourself up if ideas don’t come. Use the time to go exploring or share in others creative endeavors. It doesn’t have to be writing. Go to an art show, or a poetry reading. Others’ creativity can excite yours.

4. Start a list of ideas that just seem to pop in your head from the universe. Write them down and use them in those slow turtle times. As you think of one or two, just add to your list.

5. Journal. I keep a journal on my bedside table. I write whatever comes to mind of my day, my issues, etc. Silly ideas and glorious lists of gratitude are written. It’s also fun to look back and see some personal growth as time passes.

6. Use a pen and paper to connect. Remember them? There is nothing like the feeling of the pen in your hand with a new legal pad. The physical connection of the pen in the hand and the paper can speed up the writing process.

7. Just write to write! Throw away the rules you have learned. You aren’t in school anymore and there is no one to correct you. The freedom this brings! There are no A’s or F’s– just pure writing.

8. Just relax, take a deep breath, and walk like the turtle if that helps get to where you need to go. Eventually you will get there with the calmness of a Zen Master and the peace of a turtle.

Any comments from other writer’s I would certainly appreciate.


Creative Integrity

Integrity. Webster’s Dictionary describes the word as “a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic value.” Integrity applies to all areas of one’s life from relationships, work ethics, and being true to ones authentic self. As a writer, integrity means to make use of ones creative energy from the heart to the paper– make it real and honest for the reader while using any creative skill to pull them in.

My best writing is done when I write from the heart and soul of my core. The words compose themselves like some phantom who works across the keyboard. My fingers are just the tools to get the thoughts on paper to my readers. At times my writing is used as a tool to get my head on straight and be authentic to myself and to quit bullshitting the most important reader- myself.

One’s own lack of creative integrity can be an honest, but hurtful thing at times of self-discovery as a writer. Looking inside oneself can show a lack that isn’t always an easy road to drive. Many times I have wanted to get on a Vespa and just take off down a different road to a new change in my writing life, but when I think of it in more serious terms, that road doesn’t take me anywhere unless I fill my suitcase with the core values of who I really am– my authentic self.

Of course I have the moral code Webster describes. This isn’t the integrity I am speaking of. Lying to myself isn’t integrity. Lying to my heart isn’t integrity. Lying to my lover or friend while putting on a false face isn’t integrity, and writing words that mean nothing more than strokes on a keyboard isn’t integrity.

Someone recently asked me what kind of writer I am. I pondered that thought for a long time. I write childrens stories, I write adult fiction, I write some sexually charged fiction on the edge of porn, I write silly nonsensical fiction for the fun of it, but I also write business reports and create new programs for my company. I am a writer of all these things. They are all a part of who I am. They describe who I am as long as I am honest in my creative integrity. I can’t be whom I’m not. I can’t write poetry or scientific journals, nor do I want to. To do so would not be me, and so I write what I feel, I sense, I smell, I touch. I write about love and childhood dreams and adult fantasies. It’s all me.

I have taken that ride on my imaginary Vespa, and I made a lot of wrong turns trying to fit into someone elses ideal of who I should be as a writer, a woman, a friend. Integrity to myself is what leads me down the right road and on my most successful creative travels.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving for all of us Americans.  For many grateful Americans, today is no different than any other day; it’s a day of thankfulness, gratitude and joy. Just like any other day these people have gratitude for all the blessings life has given them.  Sometimes I just hate these people!  These people confuse me at times, and at times make me feel very inadequate, and ungrateful.

Wow, I can’t believe I said it for all the world to see, but honestly, how can one be grateful when there are so many things in one’s life that can be heart wrenching and painful?  How is eating a turkey helping these people get through whatever problems they are facing?

I have been working on this gratitude thing for a long time.  Last year when I got my house back, my job improved, I got a new car, my blessings were abundant and I was so thankful.  When I shoveled a foot of snow in my driveway, I reminded myself that I was blessed to have a driveway to shovel.  When my plumbing went nuts, I was grateful to have a man in my life who not only was willing to fix it for me, but put it right again.  That was so awesome.!

I started a gratitude journal.  Daily I list the good things that happened in my life that day.  It might  be that I had enough money to put gas in my tank, or that the weather was beautiful and felt so fresh and clean.  It’s the days that aren’t so good when I find it difficult to write about my blessings.  That is what I am working on.  It is much harder to be grateful when the day has been the worst of many days.

Last night as I stirred in my bed, I started thinking  about Thanksgiving and gratitude.  Gratitude does carry us and gives us joy in ourselves and others.  I thought about the mother whose son is at war.  She misses him, fears for him, but she knows he’s still safe and alive.  That’s her gratitude.  The positive attitude helps her get through each day of worry, and helps her go on, and in turn it helps her son know that his mom is doing okay.  I thought about the millions of people who today would be happy to have turkey and all its trimmings, but instead are eating a five dollar pizza.  The grateful ones would be grateful to have that five dollars and think and reflect on better times to come. What about the parent who is separated from their children?  How do they cope, and still be grateful?  As a mom in this situation, I do miss them, especially on holidays, but it brings me joy and gratitude in the knowing that they are with loved ones and children of their own sitting around a table eating turkey.

We all have problems.  Life is never perfect, but a new perspective can show both sides.  It’s not only the bad we have, but the good that can come of it.  Be joyful for all you love and have, and even for what you may have lost.  The Universe doesn’t punish, but opens doors of gratitude and joy in its ever-changing plan.  As joy grows, we can rejoice in life. Happy Thanksgiving!