thinking (together) about writing processes
What do I know about myself as a writer? And why am I asking this question?
I had a chance to think about these questions in the company of some amazing
women writers that as me joined the Feminist Online Writing Comunity by NSU. (You can check it out here).
One of the questions that is growing inside of me for a while now, is whether we can think together (or rather all that we can do together is to collect material to think later, in solitude). That is an enormous question that I hope I will address in another moment.
Today I want to share some of the ideas and struggles that we talked about yesterday.
I used to think that one is a writer, but I changed my opinion. One becomes a writer, and there is just one way to arrive there, one needs to write. That is why we were asking ourselves what we know about ourselves as writers. So we can find the time, the space and the courage to write.
Moreover, I am in a moment of my life where I believe that whatever we become is not set on stone. Pretty much every aspect of life requires maintenance. Our existence as writers as well. It is not like I wrote this book and now I am a writer forever. I need to choose to become a writer again and again, and I can only do that by writing.
So, what do I know about myself as a writer?
I know that at the same time that writing gives me this sense of belonging to the world, this feeling that I am worth and valuable, it is also very easy for me to forget to write. That is the case because of this heavy illusion that I carried with me for so long. I am already a writer. I published this one book, I proved myself as a writer, I can call myself a “writer” and that is it. This silly attitude makes me lose so much. Most importantly, it makes me lose the chance to experience this magic flow that writing gives me, these moments where I genuinely like to be me and I am grateful that I am alive.
Thus, one of the things that I decided to do, after our sharing yesterday is to stop calling myself a writer. Instead, I will say that I write, or that I am working to become a writer, over and over again, until I no longer exist.
Yesterday we also shared very practical tips and attitudes that we see as helpful to our writing processes. It was mentioned that drawing between writing can be very helpful. It made me happy to see a plant people and a blue cat. I used to draw between writing as well, but for some reason I stopped. I think because I realized that I suck at it. What I forgot to acknowledge is that actually that does not matter. It is not about been great at it. It is about breaking a pattern, creating space for something else, inviting fresh air into your writing process. Other ways of arriving there are by dancing, going for a walk, or reading. I found particularly beautiful the description of L. She shared that at times, when she feels stuck, she likes to go dancing with her question, and that she calls it “prayer”.
For me, another very important aspect of our sharing yesterday was about this tendency that many of us have to separate our writing processes from our bodies. What makes sense (actually it does not make sense but is understandable that we do it). After all, in this world full of male norms, we still learn that writing is supposed to be completely “intellectual” and rational. We are supposed to sit on a chair and think very hard (my mother used to tell me that I need to sit on my writing chair until some smoke would be coming out of my ears). We are supposed to forget our bodies and find this abstract, non-material power that is in theory the substance of writing.
L. and S. shared that they are dancers and that they are learning to connect who they are as dancers with their writing processes. I am trying to do the same. Not that I am a dancer, to claim that would be indeed to embrace the time of fake news, but I, as everyone else, exist in a body. I use this body to act, to perform, to tell stories, to cross the street, to go to the supermarket, to bring my kids to the kindergarten, and to do so much more, including writing. But it is not only that I use this body (my tendency to embrace this type of language is a consequence of too many years under Catholic normativity). I am this body. Why then, to insist in silencing this huge and essential part of me?
I studied Philosophy. In Brazil, in Portugal and in Norway I encountered an academic environment that still demands a kind of right way to do philosophy that is very similar to my mother’s idea of how a writer should work if she wants to succeed. What you need to do is to sit on a chair and think very hard, until smoke is coming out of your ears. That is exactly what happens when we make our bodies numb during the thinking process. We kind of burn something inside of ourselves. And it is not a summer fire full of joy. It is more like burning alive a piece of ourselves, for no good reason, mistakenly on the name of the primacy of reason.
Yesterday’s sharing invited me to bring into my writing process’s L. type of prayer. Every day I will allow myself to dance at least one song between my writing exercises. I will first write down the question that I want to carry with me to that dance and then, after putting it in a red box, I will simply dance, or better said, I will pray.
We talked about so much more. But today my 45 minutes of free writing is over. I am trying to be a grow up and stick (or at least do an effort to stick) to my plans. Because of that I will stop here for today. I will get back to it during my free writing session tomorrow.
As a farewell I will share the last sentence of the poem that A. shared with us yesterday, after all, I do believe on the power of recycling pieces of poems.
"joy is not made to be a crumb" (from the poem Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver)
Fun fact, yesterday, instead of the true sentence of the poem, I heard what the red wine in my system mixed up with my obsessions invited me to see:
joy is not made to be a CROWN
(to be continued...)
hugs and until next time