Monday, July 18, 2011

New Rules of Life

This past weekend, I went to see my grandchildren in Redding. It was wonderful. I took a book with me that I had read long ago and had in my library that was stripped from my house last year by my ex-husband. So, I bought it again here in Portland. It was "Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life" by Natalie Goldberg (Bantam: 1990).

Goldburg said in her first sentence of this book: "Life is not orderly." Well I understand that especially now. I am a writer, not a great publisher writer, but I writer none the less. In this I share many of the things Goldburg does and expresses in her book; but her book is more than a book about writing. It is a book about the Zen way of looking at life. As she wrote at the beginning of this book, life is not orderly and Zen can't be either. There is a saying that if you want to make God(s) laugh, tell him (or her) of your plans.

At the beginning of every workshop that this author does, she has a set of writing practices. I have heard from other writers that I know that they are more than rules of writing. Many people consider them the rules of life because the bottom line of all life and of these rules is learning to trust your own mind, yourself. Goldburg, herself, says that these rules can be applied to anything. I am making them my rules for life.

I got a shock recently and about the possibility that it may be more limited than I thought it was. I am re-thinking a lot of things.


If I am going to write for ten minutes or for an hour, I am going to write regardless of what is going on and not stop even if the phone rings or the desire for a cup of coffee hits me. Goldburg states there is a creator and an editor and they are two different people. Write what you want to write and the Hell with what anyone else thinks. If you keep your creative hand moving, your editing hand can't keep up with it. Editing is a good thing. It is shaping and making sure your writing says what you want it to say; but sometimes you first have to write down what you mean and ignore everything else that tries to stop your hand moving.


Say and write what you want to say. Everyone needs to have a place where they can do that. Don't worry if it is correct, polite, appropriate or not. If you don't write, go out to a place where you can say things just they way you want to say and not worry who will hear you. If you are mad at someone, give yourself permission to be mad and say what is on your mind to a lake or a canyon. In writing I want to say I am mad at this person or that and then I might tear it up or keep it in my journal. Everyone needs a safe place to let off steam but not to hurt someone, but in a safe and secure area.


If I am writing about a car, what kind of car. If I am telling someone about a tree, what kind of tree. Too often my writing is general. Too often my words to people are general, too general. This weekend I went out of town to visit my grandchildren. I went to Redding to visit my three youngest grandchildren and we went shopping and saw the last Harry Potter film in 3-D. It was wonderful. My youngest grandson missed me so much he held my hand and would not get out of the car when it was time to leave.


When writing, sometimes it is best to put down the first thoughts. The first thoughts that flash in our mind is often the more honest ones that we are thinking about. When drawing or painting, don't think about it just draw. When biking, don't think about the bike just bike. When walking, just think about walking, just walk. When living, don't think about living just live. It 's going to happen anyhow.


When I am writing, I try not to worry about the rules of writing. Nothing will stop the flow faster than worrying about stopping to check the spelling and so forth. That goes for everything else. Life is for living and not worrying about the rules. Some people know the definition of Buddhist terms and I don't. I don't think it is important. I am a Buddhist and if I get it wrong, I don't think it matters one bit.


If you worry about getting things right, you will not only not even try but not enjoy whatever you are trying to do. The thing to do is enjoy yourself. I write this now, but I have to remind myself all of the time whenever I am trying to do something. Just have a good time doing what ever you are trying to do.


If something scary comes up in writing or in your life, go for it. That is where the energy is. When it is time to remember your life, you won't remember the safe times but when it was the roughest. If I am writing something that is scaring me, I will get more out of it if I continue. I have done that and never regretted it.

During these times when I am facing the scary times, I am going to try and remember the above rules and stay mindful about my life. The worst time is when I am lying in the dark at night and the unknown comes up out of the dark like the monsters used to creep up from beneath my bed. I am going to try and remember the above rules and face it.

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