Tag Archives: Writer’s Voice

When in Ireland, don’t let the joy get knocked out of you.

5 Jul

I just got out of my Literature and Film class in which Mary O’Malley, one of Ireland’s leading poets, came to speak. She read some of her work and then asked if there were any aspiring writers in the room. I shyly raised my hand, along with three other people.

She then went around the room and asked each of the aspiring writers what they prefer to write. When she came to me, I said that I’m working on a memoir and memoir-related articles, since that has been my recent focus. Her first question, “How old are you?” is one I get a lot in reference to the fact that I’m writing a memoir. However, when I said “19” she was surprised, but didn’t make any negative remark. She just said, “Good girl,” and all I could do was smile. She then asked what the memoir would be focused on, and I just said my childhood. Her next question caught me off guard. She asked, “When do you think that ended?” (referring to my childhood). I was stunned. I couldn’t answer, much less put together any coherent sentence. She then told me that she didn’t think she knew when her childhood ended either. However, our conversation, though very short, has kicked me out of my writing rut that I’ve been moaning and groaning about for weeks. Her final piece of advice to the aspiring writers was this: “Don’t let the joy get knocked out of you,” and I think that’s what really kicked me into writing gear. It’s something that I sometimes forget: the joy. The pure, simple, and yet strong joy that I get from just writing how I feel. It’s an amazing, amazing feeling. It’s the reason I began writing in the first place….because it was my refuge, my security, the happiness that overpowered the pain.

I think as writers we all need a kick in the pants sometimes, and I got mine today. I’ve opened the Word document of my memoir, and for the first time in weeks, I’m not at a loss for words. They’re there, clear as day, waiting to be written, waiting to come alive on the page as only words can do.

Advertisements

Monday’s Musings.

23 Apr

It’s Monday aka the beginning of finals week. I realized that I haven’t made a motivation list in a while, so here are the things that are helping me get through finals week.

  • Summer!–I’m done on Thursday, and then it’s me and pleasure reading for weeks on end. Ah, it sounds so amazing. I can’t wait!
  • Alison Krauss and Union Station concert with my mom on Saturday!–We both love Alison Krauss. Her voice is simply beautiful, and I can’t wait to hear her perform live.
  • Sleep!–Which is always something college kids look forward to since not much sleep occurs during finals. I can’t wait to just cuddle up in my comfy bed with a book, reading late into the night.
  • IRELAND!–Yes, this probably should have been first on the list, but I won’t be leaving for Ireland until around June 18th, so I’ve got a while to wait. However, it’ll be exciting to put together packing lists and figure out all the cool places my mom and I are going to see when we travel around for a week before my program in Galway begins. I’m really happy that we will be able to experience Ireland together!
  • Spending quality time working on my memoir!–I haven’t be able to dedicate long spans of time to working on my memoir in a while since I’ve been busy with finals and work, etc, but I’m glad that I will be able to spend more time with it this summer. I’ve been in somewhat of a writing rut recently, but I think that’s partly because I’ve reached the point where I finally have to confront some of the really delicate memories that I’ve put off dealing with. However, this summer will be a good time to do that since I won’t have much else to focus on that’s important.

That’s about it for what’s getting me through this week, but I can do it. One day at a time, right?

Life has no smooth road for any of us; and in the bracing atmosphere of a high aim the very roughness stimulates the climber to steadier steps, till the legend, over steep ways to the stars, fulfills itself. -W.C. Doane

What are some things helping you get through this week? What do you use as motivation when you know a busy week is coming up?

A New Blog Look And My Writing Journey.

31 Mar

“Everything you’re ashamed of, all the parts of yourself that you keep secret, everything you want to change about yourself – it’s who you are. That’s your power. Deny it and you’re nothing.”-Fame

Last night after I watched Fame (the 2003 version…sorry to disappoint), I was messing around on WordPress and decided to change the look of my blog, while also adding a few widgets (or the various things located along my sidebar). I added a countdown to Ireland. As many of you know, I’m studying abroad in Ireland this summer, and I just had to have a countdown. I’ve also got one on my computer that’s broken down in days (it’s 87 days, by the way). That seems so crazy. 87 days until I’m in Galway, Ireland. WHAT?! Ah, so so cool.

Anyway, I’m happy for a new look on here, and I hope you all enjoy it as well. I figured it was time for some change, especially since it’s Spring. Also, in terms of change, I feel like I have changed a lot since beginning this blog back in November. As crazy as it seems, I began this blog 5 months ago. I’ve blogged every single day for the past 5 months. How cool! However, I owe it to all of my amazing followers who’ve given me nothing but support and encouragement. Really, all of you are so awesome!

I feel like I’m a very different person than I was back in November. When I began this blog, I didn’t really know where it would lead. At the time, I didn’t know that in 5 short months I would have established “Tuesday’s Tunes,” “Photo Fridays,” and above all, the beginning of my first novel, a memoir of sorts. I was thinking today about the journey my writing has taken. I haven’t ever been in touch with my own writing as I have since beginning my novel at the end of January. Though I’ve always had a love of writing (despite a 2 year hiatus when I was trying to figure out what I wanted out of life…which I still don’t quite know the answer to), it hasn’t always been this raw, this natural, this true. A lot of what I wrote growing up was fiction: mostly short stories and some poetry too. There were a few times I attempted writing about my own struggles when I was younger, but back then, I didn’t fully understand everything. I still had so many more questions to answer and tons of obstacles to work through. Also, I wasn’t mature enough yet to attempt to understand the reasoning behind my own emotions that I felt as I was going through all my surgeries and physical therapy sessions. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve got it all figured out now. I definitely don’t. Writing this book is a journey. A journey filled with pain, fear, love, hope, and dreams. And it’s a journey I finally want to take (which has not always been the case).

It’s exciting to know that I’ve reached this point. Yes, the entire process of writing this book will have its ups and downs, but right now, during one of the high points, I’m finding happiness in the fact that I’ve finally found my voice. I’ve found my voice in the sense of finally knowing how I want to share my story. Through writing, yes. But for a while I didn’t know what I wanted my voice to sound like for future readers. However, I’ve begun to understand that there’s only one thing I want my voice to be: authentic. If I’m writing about a memory that’s sad or emotionally hard, I’ll cry through it. If I’m writing about a memory that makes me angry, I’ll be angry. The only way my readers are going to be able to feel all the emotions I went through is if I shed every tear and let out the anger right along with them.

Tuesday’s Tunes And Advice From A Writing Mentor

27 Mar

I keep up with one of my writing mentors, Mike, pretty regularly. Recently, I’ve told him how the progress on my book is going and the different feelings I’ve been having. I thought I’d share what I sent to him and what he replied:

From Me to Mike: Though writing this book has been incredibly therapeutic, I’ve found that it has also caused me to bury deeper into myself. Though that is good in terms of growing individually and learning more about myself, it also creates a sense of loneliness that I know many writers struggle with. Though I have support from friends and family, they don’t quite understand the ability to get so lost in words that reality seems far away. Though many years ago I used to welcome the escape from reality that writing provided for me, now it seems to be more detrimental than beneficial.
There are days when I’m just lost in the words, in the memories, and climbing out takes more strength than simply sitting among the memories. It’s hard to plunge into shades of grey to write out my feelings. Then again, the only way to do this sort of thing is to just write. Write to breathe, to communicate, to connect, to truly live. The urge that I have to write in order to survive is strong, though sometimes being “in the dark place” for too long can be frightening. However, I’ve come to realize that in those places….the places of total fear and memories…are the places that I’ll be able to come face to face with who I truly am.
Through my writing, I’ve finally found my voice, which is something I remember you telling me the importance of a few years ago. Often times, people are surprised when they read some of my work only to find out that I’m as young as I am. However, though I am told how mature I am at my age, I remember that I came face to face with the reality of life at a very young age: the reality that life is hard and that the most important things one can achieve in life are never easy. Can you relate to any of this? The dark places…the shades of grey…the loneliness? How have you handled it?

From Mike To Me: My friend Tom Poland, who has made his living as a writer, thinks all good writers are flawed individuals; whether from an internal defect or something traumatic that happened in their life. I don’t necessarily agree, but a lot of us are. No one else quite understands how the process affects us. Other writers all understand the loneliness.
I am by nature a positive person and see the humor even in the darkest of times. I also find that writing about those dark days, times, and feelings is therapeutic for me. We all have dark days, periods of nothingness, and insecurity.
People who want to write, to open up their heart, put it on display and allow others to pass judgment on what is written, are different from the rest. If you want to write, whether you eventually become recognized or paid for the effort, you must have some of those feelings. Writers are more introspective, see things differently, and analyze events and feelings different from other people.
I have had a relatively simple and ordinary life. You have suffered and endured more already than I have in my whole life so far. I can’t begin to relate to what it must be to try and dig up some of the things you find deep inside. I do think it is important to do it, even if no one ever reads it but you (and hopefully me). The writing is the important part. It begins to take shape as you sweat over every word and you become stronger with each deeply hidden scrap you uncover.
Guy Clark wrote a song recently called Hemingway’s Whiskey, about the art of writing. It is simple as are most of his songs. Kenny Chesney recorded a version on the Lucky Old Sun album. Listen to an old man’s version of what you are feeling and stay in touch with me.
I am with you all the way and know what you are feeling. I am also extremely proud of you, as if you were one of my own. Keep digging and keep me informed.

Words cannot express the gratefulness I have towards Mike for always being truthful when it comes to the art of writing, while also being supportive and giving me the push I need to believe in myself. I’ve struggled with believing in myself for quite some time, and when I can see how much others believe in me, it gives me a spark of hope….a small glimpse that maybe the dream of sharing my story with the world could one day become a reality. However, like Mike said, writing is the important part (no matter if it’s published or not). I understand what he means by that, especially since so many times he’s reminded me how therapeutic the simple act of writing is. The knowledge that I’ll be a stronger person after I’ve uncovered all that has been hidden is another motivator, another push to keep on writing until all I feel is relief and joy.