Imposter Typewriter

“When you wake, levitate

Ideas pouring out.

Then you set out to make 

something great,

But nothing comes out.

Are you quick on your feet?

It’s time to dig deep.”

This is it. The part I hate. The part where the words won’t come.

The part where the thoughts keep poking me, hot daggers of biting accusations.

You’re a fake. You don’t belong here.

Your words. Recycled regurgitated garbage. Repurposed and rearranged to fool everyone. To fool yourself.

I tilt my shoulders, arching away from their pointy barbs.

The words. They’re there. I can feel them twirling around in my mind, taunting me. Sing-songy tunes luring me to reach out for them. And when I do they dart away in cruel laughter. Imposter they squeal in sinister delight.

There is darkness inside of me. There is ugliness. It’s curled up right next to laughter and joy. Arms and legs wrapped around each other in a corrupt entanglement.

There is angst and fear and fire and passion and turmoil and sweat and blood. Coiled in an incestous tryst. There are screams of rage and tears that have plunged the depths.

And it all wants release.

But self doubt reaches out. It’s long, bony fingers crawl through my conscious. Slowly making it’s way, blithely flicking away any thoughts of creativity. Finding every seed of inspiration and pressing it’s dark fingertip down until there’s nothing left but pulp.

“Guardians at the gate let you in, 

into their mansion,

I’m the acidhead homeless man

Who demands 

an explanation.

Can you be wise if you never leave the room?”

The same question haunts me over and over.

Who the hell am I? To think my words matter? To think they are worth putting to paper?

This is not romanticization of the tortured artist.

This is not a decadent serving of indulgent wallowing.

This is not splashing around in artistic misery.

Self doubt is not unique to writers and artists.

We are not alone in this suffering.

We just talk and write about it more than others.

Soliloquies have been penned about the war of art. Hemingway and Anais Nin spoke of bleeding on the paper. We write about our limitations and doubts and fears. We all sing the slow-hand blues of writer’s block. We put our thoughts and words and vulnerabilities out there for the world to gawk at. It’s what we do.

It’s not just writers. Everyone suffers from the same thing. Everyone has moments of feeling like a fake. Of doubting their expertise or ability. Most just do it quietly. Alone in their bed at night. Or in the cozy confines of their therapist’s office. Or they whisper it to their lover when they need reassurance.

Does everyone feel it?

Do surgeons wrestle with self doubt over their craft? Do they spend sleepless nights worried that their skilled hands might falter?

Do lawyers question every word and twist themselves into knots? Do they worry that they could have argued more convincingly?

Do electricians walk away from wiring a house and question whether the house will go up in acrid flames?

Isn’t it just part of the human condition? To doubt ourselves and our talents or skills?

Could it be that self doubt serves a purpose? That it pushes us to try harder? That without that push, without the nagging questions, we may never hone our skills or get better at whatever it is that we do?

Maybe the whole point of the cruel exercise to fight the demons in your head.

Could it be that self doubt is the drill instructor screaming in our ear, trying to break us down. Waiting until that determined voice in our head responds: Fuck you. You say I can’t do this? Just watch me.

Could it be that the lack of self doubt is the thing we should be concerned with? The surgeon who thinks he’s god? The leader who never questions his decisions? The electrician who shrugs apathetically when the breaker trips? Wouldn’t we rather have more  introspection and thoughtfulness than ego and hubris?

The absence of doubt does not give birth to greatness. It creates dictators and megalomaniacs and careless, uncaring practitioners. It is not a sign of confidence or aptitude. Doubt is the thing that makes you better. The thing that makes you change, grow, evolve. There is an unseemly rigidness in those who don’t ever question themselves.

What if we embrace it? What if we give it a nod the next times it’s bony fingers curl up and beckon to us? We see you. Thanks for showing up.

What if we recognized that when those feelings creep in, that it’s not a bad thing. That it’s our minds way of giving us a little kick in the ass?

Maybe today’s the day we need a little push. The day we need to wake up from our reverie and pay a little more attention to what it is we do.

As long as we don’t give in to it.

As long as that doubt doesn’t cripple us. Stymie our forward motion. Let doubt serve a purpose. Let doubt be the catalyst for making us practice, toil and sweat more.

Let doubt make you better at whatever it is that you do. Welcome it and use it. If you harness it, the doubt will be fleeting. It will serve it’s purpose and then crawl back in it’s hole.

It won’t always be easy. It can be insidious. It can infect your progress and make you want to quit. It can break you down.

That’s when you remind yourself why you’re here, doing what it is you do.

Remind yourself that for every day of stymied creativity, there are days of ideas flowing and words tumbling out effortlessly.

That for each day that your curse your need and desire to do whatever it is you feel compelled to do, that there are days that you revel in it. That it brings you satisfaction or joy or gratification.

I know that I’ll still have moments, days, where I feel the building frustration. Where my words won’t come and I’ll question why I even try. I’ll feel like quitting and erasing every word I’ve ever written.

You’re a fake. You don’t belong here.

I’ll push through it. I’ll try to remember why I’m here. Not for any grandiose notions of greatness. I’m not here thinking that my words will set the world on fire. Those kinds of thoughts belong to the tyrants and the narcissists.

I just know that I love words. I just know that it’s something I feel compelled to do.

I just know I’m incomplete if I don’t write.

This is simply my thoughts, spilling out of my head. Maybe they don’t really matter.

Maybe that’s ok.

Maybe I’m not an imposter.

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I think I must have always been a writer. I think it’s something you’re born with. Part of you that is lying in wait. Patiently, quietly, waiting. Eventually, it awakens, stretching it’s arms and looking around, bleary eyed… blinking in confusion before the realization settles in… I am home.

I was in the third grade. Her name was Ms. Abraham. She was the anti-teacher. She was a rebel in a school of proper, southern, cardigan-wearing teachers. She was statuesque in front of the green chalkboard. Gum popping between her red painted lips. She was loud. Brash. She would roll her eyes and tease us while still commanding our respect. I felt more at home in her classroom than in any other. Her unique brand of sarcasm and affection and high expectations were both exhilarating and comforting to my eight year old brain.

She introduced me to writing. Creative writing was a staple in her lesson plans. The rules were simple. Use correct spelling and grammar. Other than that? Write about whatever you want. We would cut pictures out of magazines and use them for inspiration for a story. The lack of rules was confusing at first. The freedom to do whatever we wanted was unsettling. It was perfect.

My writing soul was born in that classroom.

I didn’t keep extensive journals or write a novel on the rainy summer days of my youth. I spent my free time reading, listening to music and running around the neighborhood with my friends. But I was writing, constantly writing in my mind.

I would lay on the floor of my room and daydream for hours while I listened to my favorite albums. I would concoct stories inspired by the songs. I could spend an entire day like that. Lost in my own mind.

I would rest a dog eared book on my stomach after devouring it and replay words and phrases over in my mind. Marveling at the sequences that rolled off the page and became a part of my thoughts, seeds of future inspiration.

I would lay in bed at night, never able to fall asleep at a decent hour. I would stare at the streetlight that filtered through my metal blinds and replay events of the day, editing and re-phrasing conversations, scripting and narrating.

I had scribbled notes and half stories and partially filled notebooks. But most of my writing took place in my head. Permanence was not a concern. It was the exercise that I was seeking, not documentation.

In college I slid between majors looking for my place. I dabbled in Biology and Journalism before finally settling on an English Major. My desire to indulge in classes that involved reading and writing drowning ideas of practicality. I told myself I’d get a job writing after college. I pictured myself working in a busy magazine office, surrounded by people who loved words as much as I did.

What I found was that getting paid to write usually involves paltry freelance fees that wouldn’t support a broke post graduate.

My desire to write became a notion. A luxury that would have to be set aside while I paid the rent and student loan bills and tried to avoid eviction from my apartment.

But it was still there. I was still narrating in my mind. I was still daydreaming and imagining how I would “write” whatever was happening in my life. I would relish road trips. Hours to drive with nothing but music and the wind and my thoughts.

Then life started moving fast. There was no time to actually write. There was work and marriage and then children. I thought less and less about my dreams of writing and focused fully on raising my children. Instead of listening to music for hours, I consumed parenting books and studied learning techniques and tried to create a warm home for my family. I could have made time to write. But for the first time since third grade I had little desire.

That all changed a few years ago.

I was driving by myself, I had the windows down and the music turned up. My music was on shuffle when the song shifted. An abrupt shift in tempo had me reaching to skip the song, but I paused.

Slow streams of music filled the car, begging me to listen. I slipped into a warm bath of words and sounds. I was transported.

I was back in third grade, running through neighbors’ back yards. I was back in my bedroom laying on the floor with my headphones on listening to music. I was back in the woods lounging in a makeshift fort telling stories with my friends, making plans for mischief.

The lyrics broke through the veneer of mom and wife and carpool driver. I listened to poetry playing out in haunting melody, the words swirling through the air like blue smoke, the tendrils finding their way to me. I breathed in the words and felt my eyes burn. Tears started spilling over, trickling down my cheeks. I laughed as I wiped away the tears. I hit repeat and took the long way home, not ready to let the feeling go yet. The song… the words… they stirred me. They opened up a part of me that I had filed away for future use.

My writing soul had been gently nudged awake.

I needed to have words in my life again. I needed to write. I needed to take the voice that had been accompanying me all these years and put it on paper.

I started writing. I wrote chapters that I had been composing in my head for years. I started writing for an audience and terrified myself with the thoughts of eyes reading my words. I started fretting over cliches and phrases and obsessing over what to write about. I felt nauseous the first time I hit Publish.

I still do. I feel nerves and fear and extreme vulnerability every time I publish.

But I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep listening to music that inspires me. Music that is written with pain and passion and longing. Artists that turn phrases that have my head spinning in admiration and envy.

The more I write, the more I find myself returning to what always sustained me. I will lay on the floor after my evening workout with my headphones on, lost in a song. I’ll brush off the thoughts of dishes piled in the sink waiting for me. I’ll take the long way home to feel the wind on my face and absorb the music. I’ll brush off my to do list for a few more moments of nourishment. I sit at my laptop and shuffle through my music until a song plays that has me feeling… something.

Music has always been my compass. It’s guided me through pain, through heartbreak, through grief. It’s been the salve for open wounds and the outlet for seething anger. It’s been the inspiration I was seeking.

It woke me from a long sleep. It reminded me of who I am. Of where I belong.

I am home.

 

 

 

 

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Have you ever been excited about something, only to be let down? You feel energy firing up your senses and you give yourself over to the moment. But then the moment feels… dull. Boring. Lackluster. You’re left wanting. It can be a detached lover or a singer on the stage just going through the motions. When complacency resides where passion should burn, the disappointment floods you.

But… when there’s passion? When a singer looses his mind on stage? When art is inspiring? When someone’s words touch your soul? Those are the things we live for. That is what drives us to do great things, to connect with others. Beyond merely surviving in this world, passion is what gives us life.

Today, I’m on Elephant Journal writing about Sex, Art and Rock and Roll. I would love it if you would join me there:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/03/sex-art-rock-and-roll-how-passion-fuels-our-inner-fire/

girl with cell phone, laptop and cup of coffee, vintage photo ef

The drums are beating again.

The anger has swelled and keyboards are being pounded in condemnation.

It’s a fury that’s been simmering for a while. The Huffington Post is under fire for not paying for content, for not paying the bloggers whose words beef up their site. And people are pissed. This time their hackles have been raised by the Editor of the UK Huffington Post, Stephen Hull. In an interview he commented on being “proud of not paying for content” and then went on to say some epically stupid stuff about the integrity of writing being corrupted by payment, or some kind of nonsensical bullshit that I still can’t wrap my brain around.

I get why people are angry. His words were insulting and his reasoning absurd. Hell, I’m angry. This man took the very thing that feeds the machine that pays his “authentic” salary and flicked it off the bottom of his shoe like something he stepped in.

Angry blog posts ensued. You could almost hear the zip and zing of paper being ripped out of typewriters as these denunciations were fired off. They rightly took Hull to task. They thrashed his reasoning and his gall and had me raising my fist in the air in solidarity. Calls for all out war were screamed through key strokes. (You can read those posts here and here and here)

But my fist slowly dropped to my side as I continued to read.

Boycott The Huffington Post. Don’t read it. Don’t share it. Don’t support fellow writers who publish their work there.

I love a good fight. I will always be on the side of the underdog, the down trodden.

I am all for raging against the machine, but I won’t be lacing up my combat boots for this one.

This is not me bowing out. Nor am I taking up the cause for the Huffington Post. I don’t do their bidding. But this is not a situation of the unsuspecting innocents being manhandled by the cruel machinations of a huge corporate conglomerate.

No one is under any illusions that they will make any money or make a living by posting on HuffPost. Unless you’re one of their 200+ unionized employees (who do, in fact, get paid to write/edit/promote/distribute) you are not pulling in a paycheck. But guess what? You’re also not under a contract. You don’t have to show up. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t like the HuffPost model? Don’t send them your content.

But the fact is, a lot of bloggers do like it. They like it so much they send their blog posts there. Often.

I  happen to be one of those people. It works for me. I don’t write original material for HuffPost. I use it to syndicate my work. I only send them previously published blog posts. And I have yet to meet any blogging or media entities that pay for syndicated material. If I’m going to write an original blog post for money I have a list of sites that I can submit to. Huffington Post is not on that list. They are on another list.

They are on the exposure and influence list.

Before you start telling me that exposure won’t pay the rent, a la Wil Wheaton, let me assure you that I know that. But I also don’t buy into the idea that exposure = selling out.

Exposure = marketing.

Let’s be real. If you’re writing beyond your own private diary, you need to be in the business of marketing. And marketing in all its forms is part of the deal. Let’s not play silly games pretending it’s not. Why else would we spend countless hours building our Twitter/FaceBook/Pinterest/GooglePlus/StumbleUpon followings? Because we’re all Social Media whores who are desperate for attention? Well, maybe. But mostly because we want people to read our words. None of us are here to shout into the abyss. We want views, clicks, comments, shares. We want exposure.

Yes. Exposure. It has value. Does it pay my bills? No. Maybe one day it will, but until then my bread is buttered elsewhere. I may not be filling my belly with that sought after exposure, but I am not starving because of it either.

Exposure. After a blog post of mine went viral, Huffington Post grabbed it and put it on their front page. Three months later I’m still getting steady traffic. And more eyes on a topic I care about.

Exposure was crucial for my friend who wrote about her daughters terminal illness. After being on HuffPost her FaceBook page swelled to over 10,000 likes. She was able to raise awareness and money for the devastating rare disease she and other families are fighting to fund a clinical trial for.

Exposure resulted in an invite for a fellow blogger to appear on The Jenny McCarthy Radio Show.

Exposure has resulted in bloggers being contacted by Agents and Publishers and regular paying writing jobs in some cases.

All of this was exposure from “free” non-paid writing that was published on Huffington Post.

But artists shouldn’t work for free, right? I’m not suggesting they should, unless they want to – and some people do art for the sake of art. Struggling artists all give their stuff away. It’s networking. It’s publicity.

An up and coming singer may do a free radio show. Clear Channel can probably afford to fork over some cash to the newcomer, but not too many wannabe pop stars are going to quibble over dollars if they can reach a massive audience in a one-off opportunity.

Photographers show their work in a gallery just to generate buzz.

Authors give away their books on Kindle for free to boost their Amazon rankings.

Hell. Sometimes bloggers pay for exposure. They “Boost” their post on FaceBook.

Bloggers do guest posts for exposure. All the time.

But…  you’re telling me that I shouldn’t do it on a site with 100 million readers because the corporate fat cats that run said site are fat? Because one of their editors spouted off some ridiculous dribble? I am not concerned one bit with their personalities or their wealth. I’m happy to take full advantage of the system. I’m grateful there’s a place that allows me to publish my posts with no concerns for whether it’s been published here, there or everywhere.

I’m looking at the long game. And for me that game involves writing for exposure, writing for money and ultimately building a strong portfolio that will get me to my ultimate goal of having my novel published. Or a steady writing gig with The Atlantic. Or both. I’m not picky.

You see, I have a plan. And I get a little testy when someone tries to tell me how to play it.

So these posts, these stormy words that are intended to galvanize us and demand our worth? I get it. I do. But syndicating a blog post to the largest digital platform in the world isn’t decreasing my stock value. And these people calling for a boycott? They are bad ass writers. They are the people that most of us look up to and learn from. And I know their aim is true and their passion fueled by camaraderie for the writing community as a whole. And I appreciate that. I have huge respect for them.

But don’t tell me what’s best for me.

Don’t tell me to forsake my place at the table, I don’t care how crowded it is. I worked to get to that table. I’m not giving up my seat just yet.

Don’t tell me that exposure is overrated when you have book deals. When you’ve made it in the publishing world. When you are a famous actor who’s fame garners you a heavy following. Don’t dismiss the value of a large platform when you’re yelling through a megaphone from your own lofty perch. You made it. I have immense respect for the ass busting it took to get where you are. But excuse me while I make my way.

Huffington Post may be using me by accepting my words on to their site. That’s fine by me. I’m using them too. There’s no sweat furrowing my brow. Not to copy and paste something I already toiled over.

And giving it away for free does not a harlot nor a victim make. I’m getting mine, getting it in SEO advantages, followers and readers.

All I’m saying to my fellow writers and bloggers, is you do you and I’ll do me. Your path to get to where you are wanting to go is yours to decide. I won’t judge you for it or try to tell you how to do it. I will applaud you, read you, support you. You see, I believe strongly in this community of writers. I have learned and grown from reading and in some cases knowing you. If you don’t want your words published on The Huffington Post, I respect that.

I’m just saying don’t try to burn down the house before you consider all those who are taking shelter.

And for those of you who are staring at a shelf of books with your name on them or drying the ink on your own book deal, those of you who’ve “made it”…  you guys are my heroes. You guys give me hope every day that I’ll one day deserve a seat at the cool table. And when I get there I’ll shake your hand and thank you for being an inspiration to a thirsty writer. When I get there, I’ll lend support to my fellow writers, both big and small.

Until then, I’ll be here. Pounding away on my own keyboard.

 

 

 

 

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No one tells you that blogging will become about more than just writing. It may start off as a way to find your voice, share your thoughts and exercise the writing muscle. But it becomes so much more.

You start meeting other writers. People who care about the same issues you care about. People who breathe through writing the same as you. People who blow you away with their talent and inspire you and make you want to be better at this thing you love.

A little over two years ago, I stumbled onto Samara’s blog through a mutual blog friend. I was a little curious to check out this person who left witty and intelligent comments on another blog. I was immediately sucked into her words. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen. Scrolling from one blog post to the next. Laughing. Then crying. Enthralled. Yes, her life has all the makings of a Scorsese movie. But that wasn’t what got to me. It was her writing. I fell in hard love with her writing.

I would scramble to her blog every time I got notification that she had posted something. Reading, but not commenting. I was intimidated and scared to comment. The comments section read better than some blog posts by other writers. One day I had to say something. She’d written a gut wrenching post. I was moved to tears and had to comment. Somehow my serious comment on her serious post turned into a conversation about music and eventually realized we both were huge Lenny Kravitz fans.

And from there we started to get to “know” each other in bloggy terms. We read each other’s writing and we commented and supported. And in the midst of that we became to know each other in more “real” terms. One day she reached out to me with an email to say something about a post I’d written. It was a hard day for me, a hard post to write. One that I was reeling from for hours after hitting “publish.” The things she said in that email healed a little part of me that was in so much pain that day. It gave me the push to keep writing, just as I was considering giving it up.

See, that’s what she does. She sees something in others and pushes them to be better. She listens to your dreams and tells you to go for it. Underneath the tough exterior that burns with fire is the soft soul of a person who deeply cares about others. She helped to create this amazing place that is a safe haven for writers to unleash their pain and write with blind fury. She is fiercely protective of the people who come there to lay their hearts on the line. She is the embodiment of Together, We Are Stronger.

I’m so grateful that in this huge infinite world of blogging that I connected with her. And though in some ways we couldn’t be more different, there are so many ways I relate to her. We are both fierce protective mothers who share similar parenting philosophies. We are sisters who will never let the memories of our brothers die. We are passionate about music. Music means as much to us as writing, it is intertwined with our words. It inspires us and saves us. We are writers. We live and breathe for our families but writing is what tears us apart and puts us back together. All of these things have connected me to this woman who I got to know through her words. And now I can say we are friends and SisterWives. 

Today is her birthday. I’m a big fan of birthdays. I think they are a glorious reason to celebrate a person. To show them that you are glad they are in this world. To let them know that they are awesome and amazing and special. Samara, Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday to the passion, to the fire, to every word you bleed onto the paper. Happy Birthday to your soul that you open up and share with us every time you write. Happy Birthday to the fearlessness to Write Free. Happy Birthday to a beautiful person full of love and imperfections and intricacies.

For your birthday, I’d like to take you to a Lenny Kravitz concert. And I think we both agree we want to see Lenny circa 1990. So put on your platform shoes and your hip hugger pants. Mess up your hair and let’s jump and dance and scream. Cheers, my friend. Let’s rock.

*Write Free and Breathe Through Writing are two terms I learned from Samara. See? She’s so good with the words…*

To join the party and listen to Samara’s Birthday Mix Tape, go here.

 keith-richards-1969

“I can’t get no satisfaction

Cause I try, and I try, and I try…”

-The Rolling Stones, I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Raise your hands if you’ve ever felt like quitting.

Ever felt like you were a fraud.

Like maybe you were good… once. But whatever it was is gone.

A fluke.

If you’ve ever felt like abandoning the need that burns within you to create…

I get it.

I think we all get it.

Anyone who sets out to make art, anyone who’s existence feeds on creativity and the need to put themselves “out there” in the form of pictures, words, music, gets it.

Because sometimes being an artist/musician/writer/creator just sucks. It is walking around naked, baring your soul and serving it up for public consumption. It is wanting to have people respond and connect to it, yet wanting to crawl under a blanket of anonymity when they do.

And sometimes it is nothing. A parched and desolate landscape of empty thoughts and hollow ideas.

This is when it hurts the most. You twist and turn in frustration. You snarl at those who have the misfortune of being in your presence. You question your worth or your talent. You feel the stinging burn of tears as you allow those bastards known as Fear and Doubt, creep in to your mind. You worry that it’s all dried up, the well of creativity is empty.

Yet we keep doing it. We keep trying to do the thing we love.

But maybe… maybe we don’t have to continue this torturous cycle of elation, doubt, fear, despair. Maybe…  maybe we can all be like Keith Richards.

Yes. Keith Richards. He is one of the hardest working musicians and songwriters in rock history. He was known to practice for hours upon hours each day. He poured himself into writing melodies when the record company was demanding new hit singles every 12 weeks. Hard work. Putting in the hours. We’ve all heard that the key to any creative endeavor is exercising the muscle, showing up, doing the unglamorous work.

But there’s more to it than that. You see, Keith knew that inspiration could come at any moment, so he never travelled without his guitar and he slept with a tape recorder next to his bed. Maybe you’ve heard the story of Keith getting up in the middle of the night, picking up his guitar and playing a riff and mumbling something about “satisfaction.” He had no recollection of doing this, but the next morning he listened to hours of static until he got to the part with the seed for what would become the Rolling Stone’s biggest hit.

He wrote one of the world’s most famous guitar riffs in his sleep.

Effortless. Guided by the guitar gods. The mark of a true musical genius.

But what if it wasn’t genius or divine intervention?

What if it was simply that his mind was at rest and it was that stillness that allowed the creativity within him to come to the surface?

What if we could all do that?

What if we could all be Keith Richards?

What if we could all have the thing within us flow effortlessly and without the tug and pull that we engage in every day? What if we could tap into the reservoir of ideas that’s hidden beneath all of the noise? Beneath the hustle and the chaos and the alerts and pings and beckonings of life.

Because it’s there. We all have something that’s lying in wait. Waiting for a moment of quiet to peek it’s shy tender head through and be recognized. While you’re pounding away in frustration it is sitting patiently, waiting for you to take a breath and listen.

And this is the hardest thing to do. The desire to create something takes over logic and we drown it with our relentlessness.

Eventually we’re caught up in this frustrating place of toiling and sweating and trying and what we’re trying to get is just out of reach. Eventually we burn out.

But we don’t have to. Art doesn’t have to be suffering. Not if we respect it. Not if we nurture ourselves and nurture our art. But this, too, takes effort. We have to take time. We have to give ourselves a chance to listen to what’s beneath. Pause. Breathe. Watch a sunset. Watch a sunrise. Sit in silence. Take a walk. Go for a run. Sleep. Dream. Do whatever allows your mind to roam.

It’s no coincidence that inspiration often comes during the quiet moments. That while you’re standing naked in the shower, while you’re driving in your car with the windows rolled down, while you’re sweating in the yard under a warm sun, that these are the moments when you feel the ideas coming forward.

Find whatever gives your mind space to breath, and do it more. Whatever task or activity brings forth ideas that send you scurrying for a pen and paper? Do more of that. And if that’s not practical or possible on a regular basis? Then meditate. Just breathe and sit in stillness. The bottom line is the things that you’re trying to do, that you do not do for fame or fortune but simply for the fact that they sustain you and make you feel whole, you need to give them the courtesy of time and you need to open the door to allow them to come out.

You need to nurture them.

Respect the creativity within you. Instead of battling and fighting and trying to summon by sheer force of will… Instead of battling for the thoughts to come, instead of trying to tease out the next sentence, breathe.

I want to sink into it and get lost in the flow. I’ve felt it. I’ve felt the elation as it happens effortlessly. That is what we keep chasing, isn’t it? The sweet spot of creativity and productivity.

Like being in a dream, yet awake. Like playing a song in your sleep. Magic.

It’s there. We can all tap into it if we pause. If we stop beating it up and treating it like an obedient dog that will come when beckoned.

If we take the time to take care of it. Take care of ourselves. We can see what is in there waiting to emerge.

So don’t give up. You’re not a fluke or a fraud. You have beauty and art within you. Kick fear and doubt’s ass to the curb.

Take care of yourself. Be gentle with your creative spirit. Allow it the oxygen it needs to grow and make itself known.

Let’s all be Keith Richards.

 

This is part of the 1000 Voices for Compassion project. This month’s them is “nurturing.” If you’d like to join, add you blog post to this link:


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-photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr
-photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr

 

“Staring at empty pages, Centered ’round the same ole plot”

-Traffic, Empty Pages

Earlier this summer one of my favorite bloggers nominated me to participate on The Writing Process Blog Tour. My first thought was process? You mean there should be a process? My second thought was me? You want to know how and why and what I write? I find how others write fascinating so I was excited to be included.

Gene’O is the brilliant mind behind Just Gene’O and Sourcerer Blog and  contributor at Part Time Monster. If you check out his blog and cruise around a little you’ll see why I’m a fan. Probably one of  the most versatile bloggers, he writes about music and comics and does photoblogging as well. And when he finds a cause or injustice he needs to write about, watch out. Needless to say I was flattered that he asked me to participate.

Now on to the questions about my writing (gulp) process….

Why do I write what I do?

Quite simply, I write about whatever is on my mind. Sometimes it’s lighthearted commentary or observations. Sometimes I write album reviews or profile songs I have “playing on repeat.” Literally. I get obsessed with new music. In college my roommates had to hide my new Phish cd from me. I occasionally write about my kids and parenting. Other times it’s about issues I’m passionate about. If someone says something really stupid and misogynistic I’ll probably write about it. Racism, feminism, poverty, injustice to marginalized people, these tend to be the things I feel the need to speak out about. I also enjoy the opportunity to exorcise some anger when writing about things that get me fired up. The thing I love about blogging is I make the rules and I can write about what I want when I want. Isn’t that we all love about it?

How does my writing process work?

Music.

The name of my blog is from “Across the Universe” (The Beatles). That song sums up everything I feel about writing, about life, about this blog.

I start every blog post with a lyric from a song. I do this for a few reasons. Music is my favorite medium. It has always been what inspires me. I don’t have any musical talent, but it’s been a part of my life since I can remember. At times a song lyric or song title inspires an idea for a blog post. Other times I finish a post and have to search for a lyric that seems representative or connected in some way to what I wrote. And I always listen to music when I write. Sometimes the mood of a song dictates what type of writing I do. I try to just go with it and let it guide me.

Which brings me to the second part of my process. I try to write by instinct or inspiration. If I start writing and I don’t feel something I stop. My dashboard is full of unfinished posts. Some of them I’ve revisited after months of languishing and finished them with a new thought or direction. The seed may have been planted but not ready to produce until much later. Others may never see the light of day. I try not to sweat it.

I prefer to write on my laptop but have notebooks full of writings and scribblings and notes. I use these when I need to write on the go. Carpool line has seen some scratchings. Swim practice has become a surprisingly fruitful place for writing. The white noise of swimmers rhythmically moving in sync through the water is quite calming. If I’m desperate and am caught without my laptop or a notebook I’ll reluctantly type notes in my phone.

And the editing. Dear lord, the editing. And by editing I mean cutting. I tend to be long-winded. I have rarely written something that didn’t need at least 500 words shaved off. This has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from blogging. In every other aspect of life I live by “less is more”. Except for writing. And cheese. And wine. Anyways, editing takes me ridiculously long to accomplish. I’m hoping that as I enter my second year of blogging this part will come easier. (I mean, this whole paragraph was probably completely unnecessary but I’m leaving it in to make a point).

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

Unless you count random as a genre, I don’t know if I have one. And I’m not sure if what I do is any different from any other blogger who writes about issues and music and  any idea that pops in to their head. The difference is in simply that we all have different ways of processing the world around us. We all have different thoughts on any given subject. If I know I want to write about a particular subject I purposely avoid reading blogs or opinion pieces on that topic. I don’t want to be influenced and I don’t want to see that someone has already captured my thoughts. If I see someone expressing what I had intended to say, I’ll abandon the whole idea. I need to know that what I wrote came wholly from me and other than reading articles to gather information, I prefer to write in the dark so to speak. That being said, I am often inspired by what I read from other bloggers.

What Am I Working On At the Moment?

I would love to say I was working on a book. And I was a little, here and there, before I started this blog. It’s been years since I’ve written anything that would be read by another soul, so I have taken a break from working on the book while I hone my writing skills here. Writing for an audience and hitting publish definitely makes you critique and edit and learn. I hope to resume working on my book soon. I’m almost always thinking about it, playing out scenes and ideas in my mind. But right now, this blog is my focus. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to devote more time to it now that I don’t have a little one at home with me during the day.

So that’s it! A peek inside my lack of a process. Now I get to pass the tour on to three bloggers:

Lizzi of Considerings – Life in Silver Linings Lizzi is a generous soul who’s words will touch you. She doesn’t hold back and brings her heart along for the ride. She is one of my favorite bloggers and if you read her blog you’ll fall in love with her too.

Mandi of Cellulite Looks Better Tan Mandi writes with a voice that puts you there. You feel like you are walking along with her, living in her world. It’s an intangible thing and one of those things you wish you could learn but it’s probably innate. Funny, serious and everything in between.

Racheal of Rachealizations Lover of cheese and all things positive. Funny and contemplative and insightful. Check out her blog and see the hidden gems inside.

So get to it people! Share with us the secrets to your madness- I mean writing.