Natalie Goldberg’s, Writing Down the Bones, is one of my favorite books. I keep it on my bedside table so I can open it whenever I want and read a few pages. Not only is it full of two-page gems about writing practice, each lesson also speaks volumes about living life.
Last night I opened the book to the section entitled, “Make statements and Answer Questions.” In this section she brings to light a study that shows that women and minorities often use qualifiers in their statements, words that ask for reinforcement and encouragement, rather than using a clear and affirming voice. She writes: “After I read the article, I went home and looked at a poem I had just written. I made myself take out all vague, indefinite words and phrases. It felt as though I were pulling towels off my body, and I was left standing naked after a shower, exposing who I really was and how I felt. It was scary the first time, but it felt good. It made the poem much better.”
We all know what this nakedness feels like. We know it best in the form of early encounters that caused fear or humiliation and these experiences often shut down our voice at an early age. But truth is, there are no constants and opinions are as varied as the autumn leaves. We each have our own unique way of seeing the world and of creating and expressing ourselves. No one expression is any more valid or valuable than another.
Drawing and writing practice can help overcome the fear of exposure. To expose your thoughts and feelings on paper can be unnerving at first. To present them to others, even more so. But with practice, you will find your voice. You can’t help it.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.