Allow Your Writing to Carry You Deep Within Yourself

On one of my new WordPress.org blog sites, I posted my thoughts on how our writing can carry us all around the world Here

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Before that, I wrote about how our writing is like a Time Machine that carries back and forth in time Here

The most important place that our wrting takes us, however, is to deeper places inside ourselves, and our intuitions are the ships that carry us there. Our memories are the fuel that drives that ship.

I often write about the Intuition, and about my own work, I describe it as a type of muse that is released on my good writing and good painting days. I compare the Intuition to something that Michelangelo has been quoted as having said:

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

michelangelo

When I am in my painter’s zone, something within me arises and begins to guide my hand, directing me–a little red over here, splash!–a slash of blue there, slash!–save that white spot there, etc. When I am in my writer’s zone, the same kind of intrinsic power–or the same spirit is released, and this essence does the heavy lifting when I write.

“I’m not in control of my muse. My muse does all the work.”- Ray Bradbury

42 years ago, I earned a master’s degree in English, with an emphasis in writing, but I didn’t actually begin to write until about seven months ago. Before that time, I had pursued painting. In October of 2015, I began to write, and I have been surprised by how easy that writing has been for me. It is interesting that before I began to write, I did not read much at all. Seven months after I have begun writing, I am now allowing myself the time to read and to study what other people have written, or in the case of the Ancients, have said.

Socrates, Innate Ideas, and Maieutics

Recently, I began to review some of the things that Socrates said, and I am sensing that in describing his theory of Maieutics, Socrates was talking about the Muse or the Intuition. Maieutics is literally translated as midwifery, and Socrates’s mother was a midwife. When Socrates spoke about Maieutics in regard to his work, however, he was talking about giving birth to the innate ideas that he believed were within himself. He beleieved everyone else had similar innate ideas. I believe that in talking about the Innate Ideas, Socrates was talking about the Intuition or what others might describe as the Muse.

“You always need that spark of imagination. Sometimes I’m midway through a book before it happens. However, I don’t wait for the muse to descend, I sit down every day and I work when I’m not delivering lambs on the farm.” –
Barbara Kingsolver

I am firmly convinced that a type of creative angel does lie within each of us and that as we begin the process of writing or painting or sculpting or dancing, we release that muse, and the muse takes on a life of its own. It is important to note, however, that it is through the work that we tap into the muse. In other words: “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” In regards to writing, the work of simply writing comes first, and the muse follows.

“One reason I don’t suffer Writer’s Block is that I don’t wait on the muse, I summon it at need.” – Piers Anthony

When people say that they only write when they are in the mood to write, they are missing something very important. In fact, they are cheating themselves. In writing, “the mood” or the muse evolves after we begin to write. Perpetuating the myth that we can postpone writing until we are in the mood to write is buying into a falsehood. That is why many writers advocate writing morning pages. Most people who actually succeed with their writing careers say that in order to pop the cork that is bottling all of the things that are within themselves, they must first begin to write. Gradually, the mood or the muse or the intuition takes over, and the writer is unblocked.

Writing is a spiritual practice in that people that have no spiritual path can undertake it and, as they write, they begin to wake up to a larger connection. After a while, people tend to find that there is some muse that they are connecting to. Julia Cameron

As I said before, our memories are the best ways for us to access our muses, and for that reason, I suggest that all writers explore their pasts. In our pasts, we have enormous reservoirs of images and feelings stored, and the easiest and most authenticate way to write is to draw from the reservoir ta=that is already inside yourself. That is especially helpful in writing descriptively

When I write descriptively, I literally close my eyes, and I see something inside my mind. While my eyes are still closed, I type the words that describe what I see in my head. That is how I wrote the following:

The Lamp in the Foyer

A spindly and too-thin five-year-old tiptoed across the floor, and the wide, wooden planks creaked and groaned. As Dood walked, she released the smell of old and oily wood from the floorboards. The little girl had spied Grandma’s glass lamp across the foyer, and she had headed toward it. Dood loved to trace her fingers around the red roses that were painted on each of the lamp’s orbs, and that was how the moment began.

Even though it was mid-day and the lamp was not lit, the scent of kerosene and charred wick was still heavy from the night before. A fringe of  diamond-like pendants hung from around the lamp’s upper globe. Dood reached outward and pulled one of the crystals back and let it go, and the dangling shards bounced into each other. One after another, the pieces of glass clinked and jingled. The mirror, that was behind the rosy lamp, caught the rippling reflection and flung it back into the room. Like fireflies, the light flickered from wall to wall.

A stained glass window was mounted in the heavy oak frame that was perched at the top of the front door. A wave of bright sunlight streamed through the multi-colored panels and at the same time, a gust of wind blew through the hallway, causing the colorful light from the stained glass window to skip across the floor and into the mirror. A kaleidoscope of color bounced across the crystal fringe, and like a circus carousel,the pendants of glass rattled and danced more wildly. Tiny, little rainbows rollicked around and around and around.

©Jacki Kellum August 5, 2016

Although the above passage is ostensibly about my mother when she was a child and living in her grandmother’s home, it is actually a description of my own memories. I don’t have a copy of my mother’s memories within myself, and my intuition cannot depict what my mother saw and heard. My intuition was not around when my mother was a child. The glass lamp that I described was my mother’s lamp, and as a little girl, I loved to trace my fingers around the roses that were painted on the orbs.

I believe that it is not uncommon for people to describe their own experiences within their writings of historical fiction or biography. When a person strives to write about someone else’s past, it becomes historical fiction to one extent or another. We can never fully know the experiences of another person.

James Fennimore Cooper wrote The Last of the Mohicans and several other books that were set in the area around his home in upstate New York. In one of the books, he wrote about how the Native Americans would canoe to a big boulder to meet. This big boulder is Council Rock, which is an actual rock that is very near Cooper’s childhood home. The description of the rock in Cooper’s writing of historical fiction is beautiful and when we know that Cooper had first-hand experiences with the rock, we have little doubt that in writing what is supposedly fiction, Cooper was describing from his own memories.

For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known…
I am a part of all that I have met…Alred Lord Tennyson – Ulysses
Most people would probably agree that when we write about what we know, we are able to write more vividly. I believe that much of this is linked to the fact that when we are in the Writing Zone, our intuitions take over and begin to write for us. In order for this to happen, we must have a bank of images within ourselves, and when the intuition begins to describe, it  dives deep within and paints pictures of what it sees that is already there, and that is the value of writing about your past. Even if you never intend to write memoir or historical fiction, it is an excellent way to learn to write more authentially–to tell your own story and not one that you think that you should be writing.
Allow me to share another writing exerise–another way to access your intuition and write from that. This exercise involves “Finding” poems in prose that has been written by someone else. I tried finding a poem last night. Here is how the exercise works:

To “Find” a poem, the poet should pick up any piece of prose. [It must be prose] And he should graze through the words and select some that are particularly striking to him. Then, he should proceed to rearrange the words in a system of lines and stanzas that make sense to him. Don’t be frightened by the poem that you are about to read. I have not shifted to the Dark Side. What I am about to share are simply the words that jumped out at me, after I read 2 pages in the book that was on top of a heap that I had brought home free from the library.

snakes_jacki_kellum_poetry

The Snakes
by Jacki Kellum
Christen them. Name them.
Torture them, Stick pins through their hearts,
Or wring their necks,
At the Black Masses.

Rooster Blood.

The Devil, Wagner, Voodoo, and Holy Rollers,
They all dance around the ring.
Serpents, Ghosts, Witches, Trees
And dolls made of wax, clay, or rags.

3, 12, and 13.

There is music and drumming.
Witches, demons, night, sensuality, and evil,
Horrifying and magnificent, the secrets.
The shadows of our minds.

The snakes.

©Jacki Kellum August 15, 2016

_________________________________________________________________

About a month ago, I brought home a stack of old books that my library was throwing away. When I decided to try to “find” a poem, I literally picked up the first book on a stack of books inside my house, and I picked most of the words in the poem “The Snakes” from a 2-page spread  of probably 300 or 400 words. Granted, the book itself has a poetic quality about it [but it is still prose]. It is Volume 1 of an Encyclopedia- Man, Myth, & Magic, a book that was published in 1970.  I selected most of the poem’s words from pages 4 and 5. I have only read about 18 pages of the book, and every word that I recorded in “The Snakes” was somewhere within those first 18 pages.

©Jacki Kellum August 15, 2016

How is Finding A Poem Related to Writing from the Intition?

The words tat I recorded above are the words that stood out to me, and I based my choice on things that have happened in my past or on things that I find interesting. Another person would look at the same pages and select a different set of words. I selecting the words, our intuitions guide us. In placing the words in a way that is meaningful to us, the intuition guides us again. Our intutions are fundamental writing tools and they are linked to our pasts.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I cannot refrain from saying again and again, that our most penetrating and our most exquisite writing lies within our own memories. In examining our pasts, we reclaim our authentic voices. Too often painters go to Italy and paint the orange homes that hang from the cliffs there or they go to the Alps or to Paris to paint. When we paint best, however, we paint what we live daily; and the same thing is true in writing. We need to write what we know. But the first part of that equation is to know the person who writes. Your intuition is the ship that will carry you to the place that you actually and authentically know, and your memory fuels that ship.
©Jacki Kellum August 16, 2016

 

Carry

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