writing table in our Hemingway-inspired safari tent, South Africa 2014
I am honoured that Rebecca of Think Big, Live Simply nominated me for this blog hop, a series of questions about our writing. I don’t often participate in blog events, but this was timely and a great reflective exercise.
~~~ on writing ~~~
What am I working on?
I have just finished my blog posts of our safari in South Africa in April. Writing these and pulling together the visual story of my photos is the most exquisite process as I relive the smallest details of our holiday all over again. When I first started this blog it was purely for my other form of storytelling – photography. But over time my lifetime love and need to scribble notes pushed me to collate them into prose.
This weekend past we moved out of our inner-city unit for a few months of housesitting in the suburbs. Here I have less internet access but I do have a delightful home and garden from which to cast my eyes over the greenery, hillside, foggy mornings and winter sunsets. I have declared this time to be a writer’s retreat and hope to feel inspired to knuckle down on a personal memoir of sorts for my family and friends. If I ever decide to make it public, I will be sure to let you know.
My Grandpa will be 90 years old (!) in August and I want to write the letter I would read at his funeral – the one that reiterates all I am thankful for and admire in him. I will give it to him on his birthday rather than wait for his funeral when he wouldn’t hear it. With the recent diagnosis of a serious health condition for him, this idea has been at the forefront of my mind – not in a morbid way, but because I want to celebrate him, with him, and with my dearest people. I’m the kind of person who never leaves love unsaid and that gives me peace of mind for when the inevitable will eventuate.
How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?
I’m not an overly technical person, so I’ve never tried to classify my writing. I dance between short staccato-type posts full of random points of goodness in my life, to long pieces that wind through the story or feelings. I sometimes write very personal posts on an emotional level, but I’m very vague on identifiable details. This juxtaposition of being open but so private too, makes for occasionally mysterious prose that is not meant to alienate but hopefully is still strong enough to connect.
Why do I write what I do?
To process my own emotions. It is the most cathartic ritual to detangle the scattered thoughts and form them into a cohesive narrative. It helps me to work through issues such as changes in my eyes, on planning to not have kids, dealing with dementia in a loved one, and redefining success. Not everything I write ends up published, but the act is still very powerful.
To understand and be understood. To connect. I like that writing for an audience forces me to find the core sentiments so that it can be understood by others. It is so meaningful when people are moved by my words, universalities are pondered, and their hearts are lighter, inspired or feeling less alone. To know my words sometimes do that is something I don’t take for granted. I communicate not for sympathy but to foster greater understanding of my challenges and perhaps others who are facing their own. The dear friends I have made from this space bring so much to my life and I hope that they know just how much they mean to me.
To share and celebrate love and gratitude. The best valentine’s day or birthday presents are when my husband and I write a love letter to each other – no roses or chocolates will ever trump that. Before we travel overseas, or even just because, I write my mum a letter to tell her how much I love and appreciate her. Focusing on the good is my natural inclination, and doing so makes me feel like I’m not so vision-impaired, that I’m seeing what really matters anyway.
To lock in the memories. I opt to celebrate the little moments with my words (and photography). It cements them in my heart and makes them grow stronger. I do this to rejoice in the now, but I do wonder if these creative pursuits will embed the memories that much deeper, so that as my vision continues to deteriorate I will have a treasure chest of detailed memories to light up my eyes instead.
How does my writing process work?
I don’t like strict rituals because then I feel the energy would turn to maintaining that, rather than my creative juices. But of course I can say that without the constriction of deadlines to work to, so perhaps I would be more habitual in that scenario. However, I do set my writing times as reward – I say to myself that when I complete “x,y,z” jobs or errands then I can ease into a chair with my laptop and allow my heart and mind to wander.
Firstly, if I don’t feel like writing, I don’t. I go through phases where I’m just not enthusiastic for it. I never worry during those times, because I know that it always returns when there has been enough quietness.
I find that a germ of an idea simmers to the surface of my mind and I know when I’m ready to transfer them through the keyboard. Sometimes I jot handwritten notes down first so that I can abate concerns of losing the essence of the message. Often I will be out walking my dog, doing housework or having a shower, and suddenly it all bursts forth with clarity and I’m ready to sit down and blurt it out as fast as my fingers will allow. If it is a more emotional piece I will always withhold from publishing for a while and return later with a clear mind and some distance. If I re-read it and am still comfortable sharing it, then I will publish. Occasionally I will set up in a café for a little romantic date of playing a writer in a café. It gives an extra element that is fun and invigorating.
Conversely, my new year’s resolution in 2013 was to just let go of some of these deep and meaningful thoughts and not worry about getting them down. I have found relaxation in that conscious decision to pull back, knowing that not everything needs to be recorded, even if it’s profound in my life. While their beauty and transformative power is ever-present, sometimes I just feel, live and act the words instead.
~~~ passing the baton ~~~
Thank you to my host Rebecca for asking me! I was so delighted. While we live geographically different lives, we seem to share a love of simplicity, honesty and authenticity. Thank you for the beauty you embrace and share.
My nominated guests both write of their journey to simplicity and minimalism. Often they write exactly what I’m thinking or have been through personally, and I love the commonality. Please visit these two lovely wordy friends as I pass the baton to them…
Kali of The Nife en l’Air.
Kali is a 28 year-old communication professional and off-time blogger and writer, who writes the nose up in the air to catch up on all the details of life. The Nife en l’Air, “the nose up in the air”, is an English spin-off of la Nife en l’Air, a French blog sharing Kali’s writings and musings. Taking its own course, the Nife reflects all kinds of thoughts and inspirations, books, travel experiences… Over time, the Nife also involuntarily became a log for Kali’s life simplification journey, from questioning consumerism to self discovery. The goal of this very ordinary blog is to bring a touch of slowness and simplicity, create a debate, or maybe inspiration?
Claire of Just a Little Less
Claire is a forty something year old, married with two teenage boys living in Staffordshire in the UK. She started writing her blog after becoming interested in minimalism and simple living. Just a little less blog was launched in September 2012 as a minimalist blog for the UK. As well as writing about minimalism, Claire likes to celebrate the simple pleasures and adventures of life through her writing and photography. As Claire tracks her minimalist journey she hopes to inspire others to gain freedom from possessions and find more time for themselves and to give to others.
Not everyone I asked was able to participate, and I respect that. But I would love to have some more fun with this – if you would like to participate, please leave me a comment and I will email you the instructions.