On Gifted Elders: Finding Joy in the Journey
With the subtitle for this blog of “Finding Joy in the Journey.” I am sure readers who know me realize that this is a play on words. For those readers who do not know me, Joy is my first name. Consequently, through sharing the intricacies of growing old as a gifted woman, I am learning about myself as an individual and as a writer.
What have I learned about myself as a writer? There is much learning and, in particular, through my participation in this Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
I have learned…
- To recognize and embrace my elder voice. When I look back on pieces that I wrote at different stages of my life, I note little change from one stage to the other – until now. Lately, I can hear a tinge of authority in my personal writing that my earlier scribblings lacked. While I wrote with knowledge in my academic writing, my personal narrative in the past was tentative, searching, ingénue-like. At present, often I recognize the voice of a crone – wise elderly woman – coming into her own through the writing of this blog.
- That I can apply myself daily to the task of becoming a writer. In the past I tended to write in spurts, as a dilettante. Presently, I can see myself – and enjoy myself – as writer.
- That being an author, at least in my experience, is becoming a combination of (1) a writer inspired by her muse, (2) a builder, and (3) a contractor. My muse arrives during the not thinking about writing times, when I have set up my topic and then walked away from my desk to let subconscious juices ebb and flow. The builder begins when I sit down and put my fingers on the keyboard. Annie Dillard described this part of the process with the words, “When you write, you lay out a line of words” (Dillard, 1989, p. 3). I see myself laying down a line of bricks, then building about one line to lay down another, and another. Finally, the contractor is the part of me that time and again shifts from muse to builder and back again, pulling in references as needed, tapping creativity as needed for ideas, and assembling – hopefully – a logical whole.
- My writing process. I have learned that what works for me, at least with daily blogging, is to decide on topics days or more in advance of the writing. That is the first gift to the muse, allowing her to mine memory and language, emotions and images. Next, I might look for an image, or a poem, or something else that might spark more ideas. My next task is to create a template, inserting the image and a few notes, then to put it aside and let the muse ruminate until it is time for the builder to lay out the lines. Currently, I have all of the remaining topics chosen and the templates created for each of them for the rest of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I draft each of them as far in advance of the deadline as possible. Afterwards, I return to the piece as often as possible until publication, revising each time.
- I learned that my memory of details of places and events in the past is better than I realized. I shared in a previous post that one of my favorite ploys for falling asleep is to revisit in my mind places that I have visited, re-creating favorite scenarios. This has become a part of my writing process as well. I choose a scenario that I will be writing about, walk myself through it as if walking through a guided imagery exercise, and I fall asleep, allowing my faithful muse to do her work.
- I learned that my writing is honest to the highest degree that I can make it. I might want to add some fictitious gloss to a piece about my reality, but if I stick to the Hemingway decree of writing one, true sentence, my words are clearer, stronger, and richer. As I grow stronger in writing personal narrative, I will venture into fiction.
I know that I am learning much more about myself as a writer than what is revealed in this post, but my muse is still working on it. Thank you for reading!
Dillard, A. (1989). The writing life. New York, NY: HarperPerennial.
This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016) Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge