Step Back, Move Forward
Lately, I've enjoyed observing myself from the outside as I work and move through the day. Separating self from self, paying as much attention to my actions from an external perspective as internal. It's like envisioning Viewpoints training session from a bird's eye view while inside the work, or considering the contours of the body as a whole in Alexander Technique practice. As I write, as I correspond online, as I teach or converse or listen, I can be more aware of the overall sphere when I watch myself watching the world.
I'm a person who regularly needs to hear, "Get out of your head," either from myself or others. This separating from my skin while being there is a helpful way for me to do this. It sure helps with emotional and mental clarity, and getting refocused on my current task.
I've enjoyed attending more to how I see the world, too, from this perspective. As I watch, and watch myself watching, I feel less judgement toward what happens around me. People are humans, but they are also characters, and so am I. A guy singing a collection from the Stone Temple Pilots repertoire behind me on the BART is more fascinating than annoying. A 4th grader repeatedly asking permission to do the opposite of my assigned activity in a playwriting residency is an interesting phenomenon, not a needle in my teaching or her learning. Another cohort member opening his mouth to cause disruption in class flow is data to record in brain or on page. Something to notice. That's all.
This distancing self from self, experiences and surroundings (while living within them) helps me take on my comfortable observer role as a participant. I become more of myself - an active onlooker. I feel less limited by my immediate reactions in emotion, thought and body. I am freer to create. I am more present in my relationships and daily life - just by stepping back. How refreshing. In this way, time slows down and I can better connect with what's happening.
This reminds me of another Viewpoints tool - in whatever we're doing, we can take on a micro, molecular perspective, an everyday perspective from adult human eyes, or a macro, cosmic perspective. Where am I now? And how am I seeing? The more I ask that, the easier it gets for me to step back into the creative process and begin again.
The days have been full, and with my MFA coursework, classes I teach and my MFA project ramping up, this case will only grow truer until late spring.
Some of you know that I post raw, rough content regularly on this tumblr page from writings in the notebooks I read. I fill a notebook a month, Natalie Goldberg style. Then I go back and read them.
The notebooks I read through I wrote in years ago (right now I'm into spring 2014). I go back and look through them to find writing from my morning practice sessions then. When I find sections that stand out, I underline them. These are selections that seem awake, electric and clear, among the bland scribbles. After that first read, I go back again, and type up what I liked for 50 Shades of Kraay.
The thing is, sometimes when I read back through the underlined content to post, I don't like what I find anymore. But because I want to post regular content, I type it out anyway and submit it for public digest. Whether anyone reads it or not, I don't know, but it's out there.
Now, with an extra tight schedule, and wanting to put out material I like, I have less need to put out sentences just because they exist, even if they have a bit of heat or energy. I can skip over more lines. I can reread it, learn from it, discover how to map my brain over the years, yes. But it feels valuable to me to conserve what gets read.
This could be one of those obvious statements, but giving myself permission to only put out work I want seen, and to take less time typing up garbage*, comes as an enormous relief.
Ah, choice. I can own what I do. What a concept.
So, followers of 50 Kraay Shades may start seeing less original content, but I hope it will be better -- less rushed and more engaging. And I'll reblog interesting quotes or ideas that I find relevant.
*useful garbage, in a composting sense, but refuse nonetheless. I've been a regular devotee of Goldberg's rule, "Allow yourself to write the worst junk in the world," since 2010. For the most part, my notebooks are giant waste beds -- Fresh Kills Landfill before Freshkills Park.
Notes from a Workshop
I thought I'd share my plan from last Tuesday's Drop-In Writing Workshop.
If you weren't able to make it to The Cabin last week (or don't live in Boise) and wanted to be there, you can get a sense of what what we did. If you write on this now, or wrote something at the Drop-In and like it, feel free to share in the comments. I may do the same.
And if you REALLY like what you write, definitely submit it to Writers in the Attic before February 26. Happy writing!
Drop-In Writing Workshop - Water
Writing personal detail and sensory specifics on the page can trigger our audience’s emotional memory and influence their actions in life.
Introduction: Why Water?
The Cabin’s Water WITA contest is coming up, which prompted me to focus our time today on that theme. More importantly, water is a huge issue that keeps coming up globally and is only getting worse. Important to think about, talk about, write about.
Perhaps we can find the metaphor for how water affects us all individually tonight.
Where has water come up for people in their lives, in the news, in history?
Capturing water’s importance through specific, personal, sensory details:
We’ll read a poem to inspire us, but you can write in any medium in response.
Story, essay, poem, scene, play. These can be true or fiction.
Water Water Water Wind Water
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Process notes on a work in progress (me). This mostly contains raw rough content pulled out of practice notebooks. Occasional posts also invite you into the way I work, with intermittent notes on the hows and whys on the whats I make. Less often you may also find prompts and processes I've brought to workshops, as well as surveys that help me gather material for projects. Similar earlier posts from years ago can be found on: