Monday, April 7, 2014

Freeing Your Life with Words

From Kate's Writing Crate…

            In honor of Poetry Month and to hone writing skills, I recommend reading Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. Her 60 essays reveal ways to notice more details and ask more questions about everyday things—even names, colors, words—that we take for granted. She also suggests creative projects.

        Among my favorite essays is On a Night Picnic on page 44 where the author, her daughter, Elizabeth, and a family friend who "loves to create small occasions" pack a picnic, get into a canoe, and row out from shore to enjoy a meteor shower.

        "…we saw very few shooting stars. But Elizabeth noticed that whenever we moved a paddle or hand in the water it lit up as if Tinker Bell had sprinkled magic light into the sound. The starry show turned out to be beneath, not above us—from phosphorescent plankton…(page 45)

        Wooldridge notes this "ordinary magic" that takes place in our regular lives is as worthy of poetry (or whatever writing form we like) as life-altering moments.

        In her essay Stirring the Sky on page 132, the author notes how her young children inspire her.

        "Children naturally see and express things in a fresh way before we teach them the "right" way… [her children have asked] What would happen if the moon burned? Do bees pee? Are flowers afraid of scissors?..." (page 133)

        While I don't remember this, my mother told me that when I was three I was watching glowing embers fly up the chimney of our wood burning fireplace. I turned to her and asked, "Is this how stars are born?" How I wish I still asked questions like that today.

        We shouldn't be surprised most of us do not ask questions like that as, according to Carl Jung in Wooldridge's essay Listening to Our Shadows on page 76, "…that when we turn about seven we separate from and then bury or repress whatever parts of us don't seem to be acceptable in the world around us." Luckily, Wooldridge then suggests ways to reconnect with ourselves.

        In her essay The Image Angel on pages 149-150, Wooldridge shares: "Images often appear as messages from the unconscious, especially in dreams or daydreams. Sometimes important images appear in the real world…We need to pay attention…We can follow them to see where they lead in our writing and our lives…

        "The image angel, I think, is an aspect of the muse. She brings me images from the outside, while the muse helps me see and listen within myself." 

        Pay attention! Patterns and images often appear in our writing and our lives, but we have to notice them, think about them, and discover what they mean to us. Notebooks and journals come in handy for recording and delving into them whenever they occur.

        I admire poets. They live in the same world we do, but have different skill sets so they see and hear inspiration everywhere.

With conscious effort until it becomes ingrained habit, we can, too.

What images and/or questions inspire you?

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