This morning I listened to a replay of Rebecca Lawton’s December 2009 NAMW monthly member teleseminar. I’ve already listened to this program a  couple of times, but I usually listen to each one several times and hear something new each time.

This program is on time and mind management for writers. When Rebecca began talking about the Inner Critic, skyrockets of recognition exploded. Perhaps I’m blessed to be less afflicted with IC issues about my writing ability, though they are certainly not absent there. In this case my IC (known as Gretchen to long-time readers of my Heart and Craft of Life Writing blog) is shouting loudly about content:

  • “Your life was unremarkable.”
  • “Why do you think anyone would be interested?”
  • “Do you really want Those People to know they hurt your feelings?”
  • “What’s the point?”
  • “Are you sure you really want to do this? That it’s worth your time?”

On and on and on, she goes. Where will she stop? Nobody knows! Yes, dear readers, we all face Gretchen (by any other name) sooner or later. In this case she snuck up on me from behind and hid just out of sight. Here’s my reply to her:

“Gretchen, I know you are there. I’ll find you very soon and send you back to your room until I’m ready for your help. It will be in your best interests to vamoose right now and not wait to be found!”

I’ll keep you posted.

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Sometimes life teaches us lessons in concentrated form. This weekend has been one of those concentrated lessons. We failed to heed a quiet intuition about moving a car to the bottom of our very long, steep driveway before the Monster Storm got underway. We believed the forecast of about 7″. In actuality, we got 25″.

The power went out, the phone went dead, and we had less than 48 hours to liberate a car before my scheduled cataract surgery tomorrow morning. Plenty of tension and suspense there. The good news is that the power was out for only 12 hours, the phone came back on in a couple of hours, and this afternoon as we were preparing to go back out to finish digging, an angel in the form of a neighbor appeared with his snow blower and made short work of the rest, leaving the drive looking like it had been professionally plowed.

I found a lesson in all this pertaining to The Book: I’ve been floundering, looking for an entry point. I did find one, but it sort of sealed back over. My wheels have been spinning like the car on loose snow.

Rereading Annie Dillard has provided focus and a plan. I don’t have a full-blown map, but I do have rough outlines of one. Things are coming together, and I have full faith that just as the continuing crises of the weekend resolved in a timely fashion, so will this manuscript.

One of the very few motivational speaker quotes I recall from the early 80s is from Zig Ziglar who said, “Go as far down the path as you can see. When you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.”

Write as much as you can think of. When you’re
done, you’ll think of more to write.

I’m going to make a tiny poster of those words to put in my line of vision.

You  may have read my Blogspot posts about New Year’s Resolutions, Mind Mapping, and the breakthrough I had that enabled the words to flow. I’ve been agonizing for months over how to get started. Where is the tension? What’s the real story? Simply documenting memories, events, and how we did things is not enough to make a compelling story. That may have archival value for the family, but it won’t be gripping reading, and it will not explain the essence of me.

Fortunately, after listening to hours of downloaded NAMW member teleseminars, trading thoughts in the Life Writers Forum that Jerry Waxler and I cohost, and generally shooting the breeze with other memoir writers, it hit.

My “story” is not about events. It’s about how early events, thoughts, perceptions and beliefs shaped my thinking for decades and ultimately led me to where I am today — a place I rather like. It is essentially an overview of the seeds of my soul.

Once I had that clear, words began to flow, almost of their own accord, and they are not words that would have occurred to me had I remained in left-brain “puzzle it out” mode. These words came from elsewhere.