Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Focusing on Joy — with Startling Effects

Strange things happen when you do one of Satya Robyn's courses! They are quite low-key in the way they're presented — one reason I like them; I so hate gung-ho. They are gentle, seemingly undemanding. The daily emails are wise in a down-to-earth kind of way, with beautiful quotations and illustrations. They are easy to digest, non-threatening. Yet the effects are profound.

The one I am doing this month is about joy. We are encouraged to examine it in various ways, which include noticing what gets in the way of it. Simple practices are suggested. I am only doing two: writing a daily 'small stone' about something that gives me joy if only for a moment, and going for a walk in nature each day. The latter is not difficult where I live, but it's nice to do it mindfully, paying attention.

I think the bits of writing I'm doing are nothing earth-shattering. They are not great literature, and reveal no unusual insights. I post them to my blog and facebook writer's page anyway, but I have been wondering why I bother.

Then yesterday, sitting in the writers' group I have been facilitating with great pleasure for the last seven years, it dawned on me that I have come to the end of that. This is momentous; it has been a huge part of my life. I said nothing, came home and thought about it — only briefly before I noticed how alive the idea of moving on made me feel. I'm ready to embrace the unknown. 

It's not that there's anything wrong with the group; it's great! It's just that my time as facilitator has completed itself. Even good things come to an end. It's not a disaster in any way. Several possible replacements for me are showing up, and I expect to remain friends with people in the group. I am also looking forward to more time for my own writing, and to having freedom from the responsibilities my role has involved. They weren't arduous, in fact were enjoyable, but they were a tie. It seems I'm lightening up. I talk about my decision, and my friends say, 'Well, you sound very happy about it.'

I don't quite know how Satya's course helped precipitate this. Perhaps just by having me pay attention to joy, to how it operates in my life. I suspect the decision has been percolating away subconsciously for some time; the course didn't cause it. But, in heightening my awareness, it did enable me to become conscious of what shape joy might take for me now.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Is This the End of Year Doldrums?

I'm engaged in a month of writing about joy — supposedly. It's a course I'm doing, and so far the daily emails seem to be all about an absence of joy and how to compensate for that. Which is right on target really, as although I still take pleasure in life, true joy is hard to find nowadays.

I'm circling back through the stages of grief, and the depressed stage is here again. I know I'm lucky it's only mild, but even that sucks.

It seems to me the writing suffers for it. I do my 'small stone' dutifully each day, mindfully looking outside myself. It works up to a point, to take me out of myself, but I think the writing lacks verve. 

I even share my blog posts on facebook each day, because I set up a writer's page. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I may have lost rather than gained readers by it, as not everyone on my friends list has subscribed to the page. (On the other hand, maybe the ones who didn't weren't reading my literary endeavours anyway.) In any case, I think the writing this month is pretty banal. I also think my 'poem a day' last month was fairly ordinary to boot. Why would anyone want to keep reading this stuff, I ask myself. I'm grateful that people do, but I wonder how long they can be bothered.

I think it must be time to stop with the prompts and things, and do some serious revision instead. I always promise myself this and then fail to tackle it. I have a chapbook that's been languishing for a year! And so many more possibilities.

I just gave some opinions on a friend's poems for a potential book. She writes wonderfully — but I thought some of this lot weren't up to standard. Maybe it's just my general lack of enthusiasm for anything at the moment. But I was reminded of something Mal Morgan said to me years ago about one of my poems: 'It's not telling me anything new.' Does it matter how well written something is if it doesn't strike the reader as new and fresh? Opinions we can comfortably agree with are for Facebook status updates, not poems. 

Well, it's not wrong to inspire a reader to agreement, but hopefully as an 'Ah!' of delighted recognition, not as something they might easily have said themselves.

Hard to know, perhaps, what readers might consider 'ho-hum'. I guess one way is to keep posting and see what comments I get. 

I think I'm due for a holiday, and luckily I'm getting one fairly soon. Then — new year resolution — no more daily writing for a while, and no more subject prompts either. I might do some form prompts. I like playing around with form. But mostly, time to really revise at last.

I am also wondering about the wisdom of having transferred my writer's journal here to my personal blog. Seemed sensible to reduce the ridiculous number of blogs I keep. But now I am thinking, here is more blah that people won't really care to read, so why am I inflicting it on them? A lot of the time — like now — it's really just me talking to me about what's going on with my writing. Ah well, they can always stop reading, I guess. They're free to choose.

Meanwhile, yes, I think I'm in some kind of doldrums all right.


Monday, December 02, 2013

Importing My Writer's Journal Here

I've been keeping a writer's journal, full of writing exercises (i.e. results thereof) and the occasional reflection on process and/or report on progress. Not, perhaps, of much interest to anyone else, but I've regarded it as semi-public just in case. It was always intended mainly for my own reference. For instance, a lot of writing exercises throw up material which could be useful in those memoirs I'm so slowly creating.

But I have this ridiculous number of blogs, so have decided to merge it with this one, and have labelled all its posts accordingly, as 'writer's journal' and many also as 'writing exercises'. This will enable you to avoid them if you think they'll bore you — or look at them if you wish.