The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

W is for Writer

W is for Writers

I wanted to use this letter to remind everyone what the core principle of all of this is—and the basic reason that I spend my time going over and over and over these ideas. Some of them are advanced, but most of them are pretty basic, and relate to that concept that I call “Lifewriting For Writers.”

The Lifewriting concept suggests that fiction contains, encoded in its most basic structure, the secret to the pattern of life itself: acceptance of responsibility, handling fear, constant effort, gathering allies and abilities, dealing with failure, faith in the unseen, and passing wisdom on to the younger generation.

Applying this to the specific craft of writing asks you to examine the ways that this pattern has operated in your own life, and integrate this wisdom, or pain, into your writing efforts. It asks you to tell the truth about your failures, fears, hopes, dreams, loves, passions, and hatreds.

The idea is that as the work can be seen as a conversation between you and the external culture, the process of working is a conversation between the different aspects of your own personality. That integrating the different “people” inside you allows you to release old pains, dissolve the ego shells intended to protect your essence, and evolve to the next level of your life. Meditation does this, as does journaling, ceremony, and the process of living itself. Writing approached this way is an act of courage and commitment on the part of the writer, and the power of our own inner drive to complete ourselves and move on can create an inner momentum to the work difficult to create through any conscious technique.

Don’t try to be clever. Seek to be honest. How do we approach honesty? My answer is to examine the accuracy of our reality maps, the lenses through which we view the world. They are clouded by self-pity, greed, fear, and ignorant acceptance of Politically Correct ideas—whether those ideas originate on the Left or the Right. How do we do this? Every philosophy has its own approach, but the one most central to Lifewriting says to commit to balance and excellence in all three aspects: Body, Career, Relationship. Why not body, mind, and spirit? Because the definition of “spiritual” varies so much as to be almost useless. Because we’ve all known supposedly “spiritual” people who were simply dreadful.

On the other hand, I’ve never met anyone who was physically fit, honestly employed, and committed to a loving relationship with his/her family who did not seem to be actually engaged with life, open to hearing truth, who did not seem to be progressing from year to year—becoming MORE of what she really is, rather than wandering further and further from reality.

You don’t have to ACHIEVE excellence in these three arenas, any more than you have to reach the North Pole to head north. You do have to commit, to admit that you want security, health, passion, love, contribution. My sense is that anyone who says they don’t is simply lying. I could be wrong about this…but more often than not, when someone claims not to care, it turned out later that they were lying through their teeth.

Look into your own life. Find your own lies. Seek to find truth. Trust me…as you head in that direction, you will stir up massive silt. Meditation, journaling, and writing can help you work through it.

That’s what Lifewriting is about: using your life as a source of writing. Using your writing to empower your life.

No comments: