Thursday, June 14, 2012
The Heart of the Experience
I've been thinking for a few days now about what kinds of writing are or could be fun, allowing the idea to bloop along like the coffee in the old TV commercial of my childhood days--or maybe like the original meaning of that term, to filter through or spread gradually, like rain water seeping through the earth, changing its nature into something that can support growth. I've been watching and noticing what parts of the process I actually enjoy. To riff off Robin Williams: "Fun. You're soaking in it."
One writing form that has always been enjoyable is journaling. That's an easy one, after all. It's just for me, private and safe. I have especial fun with it since discovering Julia Cameron's morning pages idea years ago. I ramble, rant, and wonder. I disregard grammar and spelling. Well, never spelling, but I do feel free to let conciousness flow from mind to pen. It feels rather like opening up the box of myself to see what's inside. I may live as me, but I still find surprises in there. It also unburdens me of negative feelings or captures positive ones. It is a life-righting tool that I have returned to again and again. As I sip my morning tea and scribble, I'm havin' me some fun. I savor it every day, especially when a poem pops out.
Ah, and there's the other kind of writing I find fun, now that I no longer believe that I cannot leave the page until it's done and perfect. But I'm not really judging the experience as it happens. I let emerge whatever comes after the warm up of my morning pages. The really fun part is reading it later and liking it! A phrase or word pair that catches me with a little "Ooh!" of pleasure causes me a happy moment indeed. There is such rightness in an apt description, in pegging the exact feeling of a moment into just the words to recall it to myself or in making a connection between things and/or feelings. I feel as if I've captured something of the amazement and beauty, or the pathos and struggle, of life as I know it. That distillation is what I believe to be the essence and appeal of poetry. Hitting that mark, even if only in my own opinion, is indeed fun.
These little essays used to be fun, now that I think about it. In much the same way as a relationship that ended badly gets remembered that way, I forgot that in the naive beginning I did have fun catching ideas for them and crafting them. I enjoyed the grown-up pretend of feeling like a writer and seeing my words in print somewhere. Sometimes, I must confess, I re-read what I've written just for, yes, fun. Why, I can construct a decent sentence! Holy cow, that post didn't stink! To like what I've written is mighty good fun.
Therein lies the secret I think. Somewhere I stopped writing here for fun and started feeling that I should be making this blog into something, as in something marketable. I began to compare myself to highly successful bloggers and hope that I could be discovered, become successful like them, settle my destiny. Ms. Cameron is right. That's a lot of freight to place on any relationship that I hope to last.
Years ago, a baseball coach told my son something that I've never forgotten. He said "Comparison is the source of all misery." That's a pretty broad statement, but he may be right. When I'm doing anything with an inner focus or for the joy of it, as if there is no comparison or judgment, it is fun. When I'm trying too hard or expecting too much, it isn't fun any more. There may be times when judgment and striving are necessary, but I can't dwell on them without becoming blocked and bitter.
I would do better to remember the following: Writing something that I find moving rocks; writing like there's no tomorrow rolls. Writing my truth soothes; trying too hard sucks. Also, I'm too old now to waste much time on anything that does not serve me, as they say in the yoga world. If writing is something that I can't help but return to, like my yoga practice, then I must drop all comparison and striving, and savor it as one of my passions.
I can try from now on to let fun be not the stray moment that pierces the fog, but the heart of the experience of writing. As in any good love relationship, every moment won't be passionate and swept away with bliss, but they can be warm and committed and satisfying.