Monday, March 13, 2017

Inspiration Leads To Life Story Writing

Each voice is important. A woman who shares a story that is especially difficult and revealing can anchor a writing group and offer a true gift.

We struggle to get past the things that block our writing; that keep us from moving forward with our lives. The list is long: abusive relationships; shame; not realizing we are no longer that person back when the abuse or shame occurred. But we are stuck there, at least for now.

We hope to reach the light and as we watch one do it, so it encourages another.

The quality of our work almost always depends on inspiration. Inspiration serves as the catalyst to all good writing, especially life story writing.

What inspires us to write? A person? A defining time and place? A crisis? A memory that remains vivid? Why this memory, this person, this subject?

In Saturday’s Women's Writing Circle, I was struck, as always, by voices and stories. Each story contributes to the whole experience ... writers learning from each other. I’m not talking about the craft of writing, but different perspectives, observations and life experiences that spark our creative process.

Confidence is another issue. Sometimes, hearing others read their work is all it takes; that little nudge to gain confidence, to get beyond the inner critic that whispers, "this isn't very good."

As Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, notes. Set small and gentle goals and meet them; show up on the page “to rest, to dream, to try.”

My inspiration is John. He's why I wrote two memoirs and a novel. All, virtually wrote themselves. And I think the writing was for me, as much as for the memory of John.

And from our Saturday writing prompt "and the memory returns ..." I wrote this.
And the memory returns  ... Every year they bloom in riotous profusion, yellow in the sun along the old wood fence separating our yard from the neighbor’s. They have been cut back, trimmed down, because, if not, they would have taken over the whole backyard years ago. Some summers their scraggly branches, choked by vines climbed the fence, caught between the slats ... ugly, unruly. "Get rid of them," the boys said.

But I couldn’t. I didn’t have the heart. It would have been like cutting away―forever― the memory of you. I see you again, hunched over in the heat of a warm spring day, digging holes in the hard, rocky soil to plant the fledgling, tender shoots. I imagine you wore your old brown plaid shirt, a pair of jeans and black sneakers. It's been so long ... I cherry pick bits and pieces of time and place, recreating you from a collage of fading memories and distant dreams.

The forsythia, ready to burst forth after unusually warm weather, weighed down today with heavy snow. The snow arrived suddenly. The weatherman had predicted it, which is, I suppose a good thing, although it takes away the mystery of the unexpected.

And the memory returns. We had seen an ad in the local newspaper, a farmer offering free forsythia. So you drove there, dug them out and placed them, wrapped in damp newspaper, in buckets in the back of our station wagon. You grew up in the city, but your heart belonged to the quiet, restfulness of wooded places ... a house, a big yard. Our children, our nest ... you prepared as if in anticipation that you wouldn’t be with us much longer.

I want to remember you, planting the forsythia, strong, manly, a father to our children and a husband to me, your wife.
What inspires you? Your comments and thoughts about inspiration and writing life story are most welcome. 

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