“What am I doing here?”
“Is there a point to my life?”
“Can I name my yearning?”
“Something surprised me. What was it?”
Questions are one way that I further my writing in my journal
After the first stream of unwinding the activities of the previous day, questions lead in to more substantial writing that develops powerful themes.
We have every reason to stay close to what we care about today, more than ever. Women’s rights are being seriously curtailed in 4 states in the United States. I don’t need to reiterate the news, but if you are out of the loop, consider listening to this or reading this.
Does knowing what I care about even matter?
Last Wednesday evening at the Powder Keg Writing Workshop for Women that I lead at the Ramsdell Public library in Housatonic, MA, we listened to rough drafts of new writing that has risen out of a set of questions and prompts that I gave the writers. This is not an unusual event. We often read new writing to each other.
But I heard something different in the new writing. I heard a sense of agency in the writing. The writers had a firm belief that even their story, the stories of their one life lived in their ordinary skin, are worth writing. In the Powder Keg, we use stories roughed out in a journal entry and other forms of personal narrative writing to draw out details and scenes that we then turn in to fiction rich with tangible detail or creative non-fiction writing that bubbles with vitality. What seemed at first run-of-the-mill became luminous in the telling.
The writing became powerful in unexpected ways.
Do you ask yourself questions in your journal?
I ask this because if you have been around Rising Forth for longer than a month, you know that my core offering centers around a daily creative practice. I write about motherhood and the wonder to be found in everyday life, but even that writing rises out of keeping a journal. Are you challenged by posts about Daily Creative Practice? Could that be your desire trying to get your attention? No matter what our life circumstances, I believe we each can find 15 minutes to ourselves to write. My friend and creator of the Poetry Forge, Holly Wren Spaulding, says that taking the space and making some agreements with the other people in your life are 2 important steps to carving out time to write.
Even if you aren’t a writer, even if you don’t aspire to creative expression, if you think you don’t have a single story in you, or you are here reading this post because you have no idea how to start such a thing as daily creative practice, then hang on. If you were near, I’d ask you to stop and take a breath. Soften the skin of your chest, as my yoga teacher Ilana likes to ask. Relax your tongue in your mouth. Let your fingers relax.
Would you please take 15 minutes with a pencil and the back of a paper envelope to answer these 2 questions?
Who am I?
Why am I here?
For generations upon generations, women have been here to fulfill our role in advancing the human race & make sure everyone’s shoelaces are tied.
That tide has turned, and it is imperative for us to raise our voices and be heard. Whether or not you want to write books or poems or legislation, knowing yourself, taking your interior life seriously, is key to living a meaningful life.
Powerful writing happens in the morning
I am reading Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: Women at Work. Mason profiles 143 artists who detail how they begin their days. Many women begin with meditation. This step is hard for some of us; to slow our waking time down enough to sit quietly for 5 minutes. Many artists use a quiet period of feeding the chickens or watering the garden, brewing coffee as a tender approach to the day.
Those early moments are when all that your sleep as processed for you bubbles up. Small phrases, or whole stories, tendrils of solutions to what nags you during the day, dream fragments float in to your awareness in the stillness of uninterrupted early. Morning calls your name in the quiet. Your journal is the way you answer that interior summon.
Powerful writing in real time
Last Saturday, I led a writing workshop for the International Women’s Writing Guild Boston gathering. I pinch-hit for Vanessa Jimenez Gabb who had to bow out of teaching because of a family need. I showed up with my Powder Keg daily writing practices and asked powerful questions. Over the course of 90 minutes, 40 women responded, heads down writing. Everyone stood up to read either individually, or with a group. Traction happened on the page.
This is the medicine I offer, tools to fuel your rising forth.
If this nourishes you, I am so glad you are here.
If you know of someone who could use some of this medicine, please share this post.
Want to meet in person? I will teach at the International Women’s Writing at Muhlenberg College, with a mixed media and literary arts workshop for 6 days in July.
In August, my signature offering, Backyard Art Camp gathers here, in my backyard, from August 23 through 26. .
Yes, there are many ways to approach creative expression. There are so many people with whom you can study. Miles of books to read, videos or podcasts to enjoy.
Spend real time with me, whether on this blog or in a class online or in person, so that you can begin to gain your own traction, make your voice heard, and ignite your life with your own beauty.
Creative expression matters.
Thank you notes matter.
Touching with kindness matters.
Telling our stories matter.
How else will we be known?