Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Blog Tour: The Journey to Writing about My Life's Journey

A dear friend, Jena, who I will finally get to meet in person in less than two weeks, invited me to participate in a blog tour. She was invited by someone she knows who was invited by someone else who was invited by someone else... You get the picture.

Writing on the road

The idea is simple: I answer four questions about my writing process and then ask other writers to do the same. I will do the first part, but not the second part. Whenever I get one of those chain letter things - send a recipe or a Bible verse or a favorite quote - I usually send what I am asked to send to the first person on the list, but I never ask my friends to follow suit. Just a personal choice I made years ago. If, however, you are reading this blog and would like to participate in this blog tour, then please feel free to do so. Just answer the same four questions I will answer here, and if you so choose, invite your friends and sister/fellow writers to do the same. Here goes...

Writing with coffee in Rome

* What am I working on?

I am working on writing the story of my life. I am writing my story here on the blog, in my daily journaling practice, in my morning practice of writing letters to my Sweet Momma Jesus, in Sunday School lessons I prepare, and also in a series of essays in response to prompts I glean from several memoir writing books I own. I am writing about myself and my immediate family, my parents and my siblings, my cousins and other relatives. I am writing about how they treated me, how they treat me now, and how I feel about how they treat me. I am writing memories of my time at camp during my childhood and young adulthood, a place called Sunshine Acres. I am writing about boyfriends, lovers, people I had crushes on, and people I wish I had never met. My hope, my dream, my plan is to pull together a pile of these pieces and meld it all into a belt.

Writing at The Sunset Inn, NC

* How does my work differ from others of its genre?

In only one way, my work is different because I am different. I cannot tell anyone's story for them; I can only tell my own. No one else can tell my story from my perspective. Even though I write often about other people, I write about my perspective of my interactions with them. I like what Jena wrote about in her blog tour post - comparing myself with other writers is a waste of time and energy. It serves no one.

Writing in silence in Pennsylvania

* Why do I write what I do?

I write what I write because I don't know what else to write. I dole out my stories, I make gratitude lists, I recount my travels, I shed my tears and share my prayers because writing helps me see my life more clearly. Writing helps me live my life more fully. Writing keeps me from losing hope. Writing restores my strength, my courage, my dignity, and deepens my faith. Writing provides me with a lens through which to examine my life and a channel through which I can gauge the beauty and glory of it. Writing has brought wisdom and insight, understanding and clarity during times of pain, confusion, loneliness, despair, and kept me from committing more than one grave error. Writing has also provided me with the means by which I can evaluate the grave errors I have made and decide whether or not I would commit them again under any circumstances. Writing allows me to fantasize, to romanticize, to analyze, to vandalize and scandalize - all without hurting, insulting, criticizing or damaging anyone or anything apart from the paper and pen or the computer keyboard I am writing on at the time. I write what I do because in my writing, I am most fully myself. I am most joyfully, happily, thankfully alive when I allow my words to flow onto paper and onto the screen. I write what I do because I cannot imagine a single day without writing.

Writing at Susie's house in Connecticut

* How does my writing process work?

Truthfully, I wish I had a stable writing process because I believe, with or without good reason, that "an established writing process" will be better than what I have done for years. I have no such process.

Some days I wake up with an idea of what to write. Some days I need prompts from books. Sometimes I copy an idea from someone else's blog and adapt it for my own. Sometimes I print out people's blog posts, glue them into my journal, and cover them with exclamation points and comments and questions and "yup" and "YES" and "amen." With brightly colored markers. Sometimes I just write what I'm thinking and feeling; sometimes I answer a question that is heavy on my mind. Sometimes I go for a long walk in the morning and stop along the way to type writing ideas and questions into my ever-present cell phone. Often I pray and ask for guidance. Sometimes I watch television or a movie and pause it to jot down lines and words in my journal - and later I expand on those quotes in my writing. I remember song lyrics and am motivated by both new and ancient words. Every now and then, I will pull out my Synonym Finder and get help finding better words than the ones that come to me unbidden.

Once I sit down to write a blog post, I try to simply let the words flow from my mind down through my fingers. You know how sometimes when you have to go to the bathroom really badly, the urge increases ten-fold when you enter the bathroom? Crude example, I know, but that's how I feel when I sit down to write. I procrastinate for as long as possible many days, but once I sit down, the urge to write, to pour out my thoughts, my hopes, my prayers, my questions, my dreams is nearly overwhelming. Sometimes I choose not to write because the feeling is more intense than I am ready to deal with at the moment.

Writing at Christmas time

Most of the time, I feel like I'm taking dictation from someone else, like the words come to me from a Higher Source, Someone who is thinking more clearly than myself, someone who has a story to tell, a message to share with others through me. There have been many times when I have looked back at earlier journals, blog posts, and essays written in earlier years, and I shake my head with gratitude that The Source has seen fit to share so many stories and experiences and insights with me.

I love to write. I love to tell the story, my story. I plan to keep telling this story of mine for as long as I live.

Thanks, Jena, for the invitation to share my writing process - such as it is.

1 comment: said...

"I write what I write because I don't know what else to write." And so many other things you shared here, Gail, resonated with me. I'm thankful to have this glimpse into your writing life. And especially love that you included pictures.
Thanks for "playing" along!