Writing as Deep Listening

DeskW:DaffodilsJim was a thoughtful, retired pastor who came to me for writing support. Because of prolonged wheelchair use, a wound had appeared at his sacrum that proved difficult to heal and challenging to his faith. Jim wrote personal essays about the struggle while enduring multiple surgeries and long periods of immobility.

Then his project stalled. He had expected the wound to close and provide neat closure to his essays. When it didn’t, he couldn’t finish his essays.

I told Jim (rather crassly) that a physical healing would be a clichéd ending to his story. (more…)

Walking On Air

When my partner Emily teaches a traditional circle dance to a group of newbies, they go through a predictable progression. First, they’re so uncomfortable they trip over their feet. They talk nervously, drawing attention away from their awkwardness. Sometimes they give up. But Emily’s a patient teacher and her dances are simple, ancient, and usually repetitive, so those who stick with it eventually fall into a pattern and begin enjoying themselves.

Then, if the dancer repeats these steps over weeks and months, he or she forgets the steps entirely and enters the dance. I’m not much of a dancer but even I have experienced my self-consciousness release into consciousness and then fall away entirely.

I’m interested in how this happens for writers, too. Seamus Heaney describes it as “walking on air”: “We must teach ourselves to walk on air against our better judgment.” (more…)