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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Middle Passages Who?

Some of my regular readers will recall that I am slogging my way through The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. The daily requirement of this process is to write three stream-of-conscious pages each morning, first thing. I give myself a "B" with regard to my dedication to this practice. Though I don’t get to my morning pages every day, when I do, I love them. It’s self-indulgent and over-the-top rewarding to write whatever you want for a half-hour each day. And while I give myself a lower grade, say a "C-," in completing the ongoing lessons in the workbook, I’m OK with that too, because regardless of how my report card reads, the coaching still gets to me.

For example, today I was playing catch up with the assignments in Lesson Five. At the end of each chapter, we are supposed to reflect on the week's progress. During this check in, the first thing the author wants to know is how many days we completed the morning pages. At the end of this chapter though, she tagged the following language onto that query:
“Have you discovered the page-and-a-half truth point yet? Many of us find that pay dirt in our writing occurs after a page-and-a-half of vamping.”

Curious, I flipped back three pages and read what I had just written. At the page-and-a-half spot, here is what I found:

“I owe so much to Middle Passages. It pulled me up when I could have crashed way down. It kept me going when I had no idea what to do. It’s funny though, to talk about a blog like it’s a third party – when, in fact, Middle Passages is me. All me. I wrote it. I dedicated myself to it. It is by far what led me to were I am today. But here's the thing. It wasn’t some other person who wrote all those blog posts – it was me.”

I do, in fact, think of Middle Passages sometimes as living, breathing being, so it's helpful to remind myself that the one in charge of the inhaling and exhaling is me. Middle Passages didn’t keep me going. I kept me going. As my daughter used to say when she was small: “I do mom. I do myself.”

Like a toddler, I still struggle to make sense of this new life of mine. But similar to my then little girl, I’m figuring it out because "I do."

Oh, right.

Note to self. It’s me on the other side of them-there fingertips.

How about you? When you write stream-of-conscious, do you discover a page-and-a-half truth point?


glnroz said...

You are right, you "do".... you DO get a A+ for your blogging...

rae said...

What an interesting thought. I tend to write blog posts and then edit them several times before I post them. My moment of truth usually arrives at the third edit, when all the ideas I want to communicate finally take their right form.

Simon C. Larter said...

I've never written stream of consciousness, except in fiction. And for me, stream of consciousness has to be true right from the start if it's to work (in fiction writing, anyway).

That said, I'm wondering if The Artist's Way isn't a book I should read. I may have said this before. Perhaps I should stop stream of consciousnessing this comment...

Helen Ginger said...

I don't really write stream-of-consciousness fiction (or even nonfiction), so I don't know the answer. It's an interesting idea, though.

Straight From Hel

Ginger B. (Barbara) Collins said...

I admire your dedication to The Artist's Way. You're making some valuable discoveries . . . about your writing and about yourself.

Stream-of-consciousness works well for me in my fiction writing, but morning pages ended up being my to-do list with errands and groceries. You're my idol!

Ginger B.

Flameater said...

Before I write something, I feel this huge, insurmountable doubt in me that I would be able to do it. This doubt sometimes causes me to spend weeks avoiding the writing that I have to do.

When I do write, the thoughts flow out freely. What gets written is never planned or laid out like a road map before it hits the written page.

Then the editing comes and cleans it up.