Finding Me Some Outgoing Guts and Imagination
by Laurie Wagner | Apr 8, 2013 | Blog |
“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath
Wow. You go Sylvia Plath. And here I was all set to write a piece on how I was struggling to find an authentic voice in my blog.
That might surprise people who know me. I teach folks how to find their authentic voice on paper – so if anyone should have one packed and ready to roll out for a weekly blog it would be me.
When I’m with my Wild Writing students four days a week I write really honest, messy stories about my relationships, sexuality, addiction, aging, all the things I long for and struggle with. I show up naked and full of those unseemly thigh dimples. I think that’s why I have so many writers who come back and work with me year after year; I put myself on the line and model the kind of authentic writing that Wild Writing is all about.
And when I forget how to do it, my students take the lead. Together we create a world where imagination and guts is golden, the thing we reach for.
But the blog isn’t a room full of women who I’ve been writing with for months. I have no idea who is reading this, but moreover, I’ve been confused about what to share. My website and my more public persona is that of a writing teacher, but that’s just a slice of who I am.
How do I find that middle line – the place where authenticity meets imagination and the “outgoing guts” to tell real stories?
And what will I share? Will I talk about the date I was on Saturday night and the extra martini that I really didn’t need? Or what it’s like to end a marriage with a really nice man after 21 years and become a single mom to teenage girls? Why blog at all? I have some friends, like Andrea Scher, who do it really well. I watch her – many of those blog posts are written in our class. Andrea’s completely beautiful and natural.
So I’m sitting with this – embarrassed by my lack of confidence. But sitting isn’t very productive – and if I know anything, I know that. Getting up and moving into the studio, picking up the paintbrush or the pen is everything to moving into relationship with my work. I can’t resolve this issue in my head. There’s no courage in that. So I think I better take a page from Ms. Plath, and my friend Ms. Scher, and find me some guts and the imagination to get some words on the page – no matter what. Time to practice what I preach and show up naked – dimples and all.
Reflections on creative jumpstarting and courageously taking a fork in the road much appreciated.
hello beautiful – we’re way past due to talk. Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated coming from you, an artist I respect and love so much. xxx
I’m going to disagree with you on one point (which in the end will actually be just another way of agreeing with you)–as a meditation practitioner, sitting is VERY productive, making space and taking time is worth it. I think what you mean is that staying there, moving in and living there doesn’t work, that at some point you have to take a deep breath and tell the truth, (after first having determined what that might be). May you feel the space around you and know that it is vast and clear, that the words will come, and when they come, may you offer them with love, and may you feel the warmth of the love they generate and be covered in buckets of light.
Beautiful Jill – I agree with you. I like the space you describe – clean and quiet – an opportunity to see what’s there and then move on it. Beautiful – thank you!
I like how you allow everything in, even the embarrassment. When I wrote the memoir recently, and struggled with placing some excerpts in public view, my good friend (and therapist) helped me discover that I have no reputation to manage. I can live in the same radical honesty it took to write the book. I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming. The writing led me to the free life. Where I sit saying, “Wow, I didn’t know I could be this transparent.” Thanks Laurie for helping me get there.
“I have no reputation to manage.” I think those words are going to set me free baby. Thank you! Totally right, totally free. Love!
Hi Laurie – for a few weeks now, a little voice in the back of my head has been whispering – go visit Laurie’s blog and see what she’s up to. Today, immersed in looking through writing I did in your creative non-fiction class last year and wondering what made it work so well, I finally listened to that voice. And I found your post – which goes straight to the heart of what I’ve been struggling with in writing! When you – you Laurie – created a safe space – a wild sacred space – in your class, I felt free to experiment with everything, never mind the explosions and fallout. And it was exhilarating! But blogs are odd – in some ways they are the exact opposite of those spaces – because we don’t know who is reading, what motivates them, and if they are going to read with kind eyes. We can’t call the words back and sweep up the spilled potions so easily explaining that it was only a rough draft anyway. It’s a lot scarier and messier, and so I get stuck. But I’m going to follow your courage and example and write anyway. Because I just have this feeling that if I don’t risk it, then I’ll never get beyond this fear and stuckness. And then my writing will always be academically nice and rather sweet, but lack the outgoing guts to make it worth reading.
You totally inspire me Melissa, thank you for reading and writing. Someone said to me recently, “I want to learn from you.” And I said, “we learn from each other.” Your letter, and all these notes I’m getting are a reminder of that. Maybe a blog is an opportunity to reach out and get a dialogue going. Love hearing from you – thank you!
love you and all your mess! – that makes us ..us!
messy, beautiful us! xxxx
I love the questions in this piece. What to share? What is authentic? What is the purpose of each piece of writing? Who are we showing up for — ourselves, readers, both? Mostly what I love about this piece is that you simply showed up — questions, dimples, and all! xoxo
you are my companion on the road Sherry – I so value our friendship and how we welcome these questions. xxx
Thank you for this honesty – this encouragement – and – for “doing the work.”
thank you! I am no different than anyone else. Even after all the books and stories and classes taught – baby – it’s the blank page every time! That’s why it’s called a writing practice! We’re all in the same soup!
This speaks so much to the technological boom of recent years, and the push that has given social media, and the push (and in a lot of cases, pressure) that has given this idea of making public what has historically been so private. I love the intimacy of your classes, that feeling around that big table. There’s nothing quite like that, and yet with blogs and Twitter and Instagram and all of the other ways of social sharing, I think we trick ourselves somehow into believing that it IS that same table, only it’s just – you know, virtual. But it’s not the same table. It’s another piece of furniture entirely, one of those IKEA pieces that looks easy to put together because it’s just drawings and a dozen screws but which we inevitably lose the thread of and get turned around by and suddenly that thing we were trying to make now has extra somethings here and not enough somethings there. The online space – to me – is always a bit of a testing ground, an experiment, a…whaddya call it, a prototype. It doesn’t quite feel like it ever lands anywhere, only that it expands, shifts, turns a corner, metamorphoses depending on where we are and what we want to say about it. Sometimes, that thing is quiet and gentle and tender and other times its unwieldy and sharp and all angles. You hit the nail on the head with this question: “And what will I share?” I think what I struggle with sometimes with keeping up my own blog and online presence is that I am EXTREMELY aware of my need to be quietly generative. I need that space in the office or on the living room couch or on the back deck or at a coffee shop, where I just get to go back to the beginnings. Where there is no deadline, no final draft, no hit SEND. It’s just me playing in the sandbox of my own writing. I think we sometimes miss this part in our pursuit of keeping up, in meeting the demand, the call, for adding our voices to the collective mosh pit. We miss that part in where we experience our creativity through our beginner’s mind, where the point is that there is no point.
Ah, it must be getting late. I’m on a soapbox. I’m stepping off now, and tell you that I always ALWAYS admire the way you unwrap into the questions and look daringly at your own life for answers…love you, lulu.
good god Maya – what would I do without you? You can get on a soapbox anytime. You’re so friggin smart and real – I’ll follow you anywhere. Name it – we’re going. Love what you wrote. You’re my role model. xxx
Laurie. Well. I count myself as one of many who will, with glee and relish, read ANYTHING you in particular want to put out in the world. Really, truly.
I also know well the ability to peek off my yoga matt at the amazing miz Andrea and what she’s able to put forth. Continue to be inspired by her. You already have bravery and gorgeous writing in spades. Turn on your faucet.
I await your next installment. With love.
Kimmy – it’s so nice to hear from you – and it’s been so long. It’s really, really wonderful to get high fives from people I know – like you. It’s just love, pure love. Big thanks for reading baby.
Maybe if I imagine your face reading my blogs I’ll have the courage to say something real. Thanks sweetie.