Amelia Robinson

Hey there! I'm a student at the University of Kentucky and an aspiring writer. This blog serves as an outlet for all the things I want to talk about that are writing-related. I'll post some of my writing, too, for your enjoyment and critique. Thank you for stopping by! If you'd like to know more about me, feel free to visit here!

Start With Certainty in Darkness

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I found this quote in Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg that I felt I should share:
So when we write and begin with an empty page and a heart unsure, a famine of thoughts, a fear of no feeling -- just begin from there, from that electricity.  This kind of writing is uncontrolled, is not sure where the outcome is, and it begins in ignorance and darkness.
Natalie Goldberg has some crazy mental powers, because it feels like every other page she's reaching into my mind and plucking out my exact thoughts.

I was doing something that I didn't recognize until I read that quote:  when I'm struggling with a story and boo-hooing about how little I know about it and how I can't write until I know everything blah blah blah... I thought I must've been doing something wrong, that surely my favorite authors knew what they were doing when they started in on their project.

I'm slowly realizing how destructive it is to compare yourself to others.  Don't do that.  It's a stressor that is so unnecessary and has no creative benefit whatsoever.

Not that I'm saying it's easy to stop, because it isn't.  Envy and jealousy is something I struggle with all the time, and it's like this sneaky little phantom hovering like a mist in the corners of my mind, coming alive like a belrog from Fellowship of the Ring when I'm the most vulnerable.

Now that I feel I have some justification about going into my story ignorant, I might be able to write some more.

Let me turn that into a definitive statement:  I will write something today.

Natalie Goldberg also talked about how she read an article where research showed how women commonly use qualifiers in their statements.  Example: "You like that, don't you?" or "It's just horrible, isn't it?"  The research showed that women felt they needed encouragement when making statements, needed verification and acceptance of their opinions.

Natalie Goldberg went to her most recently written poetry and examined it through the lens of this research.  Taking out all the vague, indefinite statements was uncomfortable, like "pulling towels off my body, and I was left standing naked after a shower, exposing who I really was and how I felt."

I've come across this idea more than once.  Especially when I'm on Facebook, where things tend to get clouded and appear bigger and scarier in the mist, I tend to make myself very small and indefinite because I'm afraid of people knowing exactly how I feel.  They might argue it, they may dislike me, they may single me out.

Really, though, in the grand scheme of things... Does it really matter?  If anything will have a lasting effect, it's that you made the point to say what you felt, rather than what you were talking about.

This is a useful thing to keep in mind when writing.  Especially when you're writing a first draft, a draft that no one but you is likely to see.  Write the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it is.  Even if you are afraid of taking a stand, do it anyway.  You cheapen your work by half-assing it, and it forces the boundaries of your comfort zone to grow, which sounds like a good thing to me.

So today's lesson is: It's okay to start out without knowing much, and even if I don't know much, write like I do.

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