April 15, 2010

That secret club

In front of me pinned to my cork board on a scrappy piece of paper is a quote..

"Don't waste your time on the obvious things. Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else".

Well what disturbs me is this firm grasp on the phrase....."well I'm a writer" as though it's a secret club that requires a membership card or perhaps a secret handshake and a nod of the head.

I believe everyone has talent. Some have had the time to hone it while others have disjointed ideas, written in journals or on yellow, lined legal pads stuffed into drawers or under the bed.

My lovely friend Tania of Backwards In High Heels fame wrote a lovely series about writing last year. She was teaching a 5 day writing course at the time as part of the Aboyne Arts Festival and was extremely kind to transcribe it onto her blog. This is Day One of the written version. There are five days in all and by the time you finish reading, if you have a yearning to write, you will be brimming with ideas and new found excitement.

This is the opening paragraph of her writing series....

"The Fear takes many forms. The most profound is the secret, crippling conviction that you are not allowed to be a writer unless you have certain qualifications. You must be born in the right place, to the right parents, with the right education. You must also have a specific God-given talent, a feeling for words, the equivalent of a musical ear. The other form of the Fear is an internalised memory, of teachers mostly, telling you that no, no, it is not done that way, and if you do not do it in the correctly prescribed way you will never amount to anything. There are rules, there are criteria, there are things that people expect. All of this is nonsense. I cannot stress this enough. I will say it again: all of this is nonsense. The point about writing is that if you are willing to work hard enough, to listen closely to your own voice, to push past the terror, you will be able to do it. I’m not saying it will be easy. All good writers know that writing is hard. Bad writing is a simple matter, you just have to put your fingers on the keyboard and go. Serious writing, and writing is serious, is difficult. But if you put in the time, it is not beyond your reach".

What struck me was the generous way in which she wants to lead anyone who's scared, to feel comfortable in revealing themselves as a writer and to come along for the ride. She demystifies the angst and terror of rejection, the "oh you're not a writer". I read and digested the entire series as I am secretly, that person. I don't have the time to hone my skills as the other side of my brain has a death grip on my focus running my company, reading other people's scripts, books, plays, TV pilots or 10 page "can-you-help-me" letters.

I'm a writer because I write just as trillions of others do - am I a good writer - I don't think so but I have the passion and the desire to learn how to be. I'm constantly surrounded by people who aren't shy to profess "well I'm a writer" - they are the ones in that "secret writers club" where they feel you do need to be born in the right place, on the right day when the light is just right. What defines a writer?

April 5, 2010

Being of service

One thing I've learned over the years is - its better to give than to receive. I have a very fortunate life filled with great family and friends and am truly thankful for that. I am involved in the Big Sunday weekend (May 1st and 2nd) - through an organization called Big Sunday which gives back to the community in which we live. Here's the link to the actual volunteer form - as you can see some of the programs are for a couple of hours - from painting schools, to organizing lunch at an Aids hospice - there is something for everyone. BIG SUNDAY.

"Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seemingly for a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received." Albert Einstein