Take heart. Take hope. And talk, if only to a candle.
A candle as therapist? No, I have not lost my mind. Quite the contrary, I think I found it. I recently wrote a post about reading Paulo Coelho’s book The Zahir, and the importance he places on telling stories as a preliminary to becoming more loving. Although this injunction intuitively rings true, he doesn’t give directions on how to go about it.
Coelho’s first book of note was The Alchemist, published in English in 1994, and I must be the last person on the planet to read this book. Aside from selling millions of copies, it is always checked out in libraries. Where have I been? I finally reached the top of the reserve list at the library the other day and set about reading my third Coelho title.
Halfway through the book, I was overcome by the urge to stop and “tell my story.” I was home alone, and . . . you can find the details of that occasion in a story I posted on my site on Gather.com. For those who don’t have time just now to click over and read it, I’ll summarize by saying it was a transformative experience, and one I highly recommend.
From this event I discovered that sometimes sitting back and talking, even to a candle, can lead to greater self-awareness and insight than writing for months. Furthermore, that insight can have a powerful impact on your writing.
I’ve reached the point in my writing that the urge to continue piling up “scrapbook” stories is waning. I’m becoming more interested in compiling my collection into more complex memoir form. Without a vision of that unifying thread, there isn’t much hope for a meaningful melange, and I hadn’t found that thread.
One of the outcomes of my mysterious life review sort of process was finding that thread. By sitting and telling my story, without interruption or the need to clarify, explain or defend, a sense of orderly progression developed. Lots of other good things happened, but I’ll let you read about those in the story. This post is about writing.
Should you wish to experiment with my discovery, I suggest these ingredients:
- A comfortable chair or other place where you can sit upright, without needing to squirm for an hour or two.
- A block of unstructured time, at least two hours.
- Privacy — if you can’t find time alone at home, try a park or other secluded spot. Turn off your cell phone!
This process should help you get at the heart of your story, as well or better than anything I know of. It could help you get past fears and block you weren’t even aware you had. Communing with self is the core of the writing process, and this is the most effective way I’ve found to do that.
Peace be with you.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal