“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–”
Mary Oliver, The Journey.
When I decided that I did want to write I took a Creative Writing Course at the university here in Wellington. Looking back all those years, I wonder how it was that I didn’t recognise that I had always been writing. My many notebooks attested to this fact but yet, I didn’t think of myself as being a writer.
So to the Creative Writing Course. One task we were given early in the course was to “Write about your skeletons”. We were told we all had them and if we could put them onto paper it would be a good place to start. We were required to write them down, not type them into the computer. The tutor reiterated the “known fact” (well accepted fact) that transferring the words from your mind, through your hand to the page gave them power.
Note – Research has shown that hand-writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on at the moment—the physical act of writing brings it to the forefront. Author Henriette Anne Klauser who wrote Write It Down, Make It Happen, says that “Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this detail!’
For me at least, this skeleton thing was something that I didn’t want to write about. And then the thought of reading my words out loud to others in the group (and yes this was a requisite that we read our pieces to the others) made my skin cringe and my fingers curl. But guess what, in putting this down on paper it lost a lot of its power over me. It wasn’t a huge skeleton just something that I omitted to do when I was much younger, but it had ‘haunted’ me ever since.
In writing this I was required to analyse what the problem was, how I felt about it and also what I could have done differently in that situation. Written down I saw it for what it was, simply a blip in the long road I have travelled.
This task has stood me in good stead over the years when I have been honing my ‘skill’ as a writer. I now write every day as we all know that we must practice and practice whatever we want to be good at. Remember Beethoven, Einstein, Edison, Colonel Sanders, Clint Eastwood and the Wright Brothers all worked at their craft regularly to perfect it.
So I shall continue to write. Whether for my eyes only or in the hope that others may appreciate what I have written. And when the words flow freely as they sometimes do I shall recall these lines but I don’t know where they came from. Can anybody help please. **
As the water cascades and tumbles
over the rocks in it’s rush
down to join the river
so my thoughts tumble around my brain
looking for an outlet
or a safe place to stop.
** Since writing this blog I have discovered these lines written in amongst my attempts at writing poetry and so unless anyone can tell me otherwise, I shall recognise this as my own words.