Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dangerous and Irrestible

I'll admit it--I was scared. When it was first suggested that I write and maintain a blog about creative writing, I was more than a little intimidated. I've only just begun writing again after many years of silence. I'm too much of a beginner to pose as an expert, I reasoned. But more than this, I didn't like the idea of all my words, my writing, myself, out there, exposed. It is the "World Wide Web" after all. But then I thought about what it has meant for me to start finding my voice after all these years of denying I was a writer. And I felt again the passion I have for others to discover their own writing voices, their own creative selves. I decided to take a risk and see if perhaps this is the next small step in my journey as a writer, a journey I would love to share with you.

I have found writing to be like walking along a craigy shoreline. One moment I'm giddy with joy and the next shaking with insecurity. There's something amazingly powerful about the act of putting thoughts and feelings into words. Writing (or any other art form) allows us to discover ourselves. And it teaches us a way to live in wonder. But it's scary. For the words go forward, lining up one after another, strung into sentences, telling any reader who comes along that this is how I see the world, and this is how I feel, and this is what I know. And there's a risk. The reader may say, "You're wrong. The world is nothing like that. Your feelings are strange. Your knowledge is incorrect or dangerous." Or perhaps even more terrifying, the reader may simply say, "You're just not good enough."

Sometimes this risk feels immobilizing. (Like when I'm trying to write my first blog post!) But I keep walking this rocky path, compelled by the hope of another view of the crashing waves. (Like the discovery that I might, possibly, like this blogging business.)

I think many of you know what I'm talking about. You feel the same urge--this drive to make a story, or a poem, or a letter or an essay--to find some way to tell how the world is for you. And you also feel those same reservations--the insecurities about revealing yourself, the fears about what might be uncovered.

If what I've said resonates with you, if you have even a small and hidden longing to write or (as I like to say) "to try writing," I want to urge you to listen to that little longing. It is important. It has something to tell you. Our longings have something to teach us. And I have not found many teachers more powerful than this longing to create, to write, to find a voice that tells who I am.

Now if I have your interest, let me make two suggestions, beginner to beginner:

1) Start writing. Write every day. Write bad stuff. Write self-absorbed poems about your toenails. Write about letters to your pets. Write silly stories for your kids. Write grocery lists for your great, great, great, great grandchildren. Write to let yourself slowly believe that you are, indeed, a writer.Here's a suggested"assignment": Write about a time you took a risk. Tell the story so that others can sense the fear, force your words to tell how you really felt, what you truly experienced.

2) Join a community of writers. We have a writing group that meets at Oak Hills one Saturday night a month, from 8:30-10:30 p.m. Our next meeting is April 14, and we'd love for you to join us.I also hope this blog can also as an extension of that community. I hope that in this space we can encourage each other to find a way through fear to our own voices, to our own craigy shorelines. To that end, I imagine us hashing through all manner of things related to creative writing. I'd really like this to be a conversation with you --about what drives you and what stymies you, what inspires, what stops you cold in your tracks. I want to talk with you about great writings and great writers we want to learn from. I want to write with you. So please, don't be afraid to WRITE back.

So here I am. Ready to click "publish" on this first post. Pretty scared and insecure, but also, excited to imagine I might find others who will walk with me on this dangerous but irrestible journey.