Monday, January 17, 2011

Some thoughts from "The Journal Keeper"

I finished reading The Journal Keeper: A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux today. Her life definitely went in some unexpected directions, which just goes to show that no matter how old you are, life is still full of surprises.

As this is a blog (mostly) about writing, I thought I would share some of her thoughts on writing.

Keeping a journal not only saved my life in the record-keeping sense but saved it in a deeper, more mysterious sense as well.

Yesterday went well. I worked on the plot outline for the Christmas book [ Giovanni's Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas ]. No real writing, but I spent several hours working steadily without wanting to be anywhere else. It was exciting. What is happening is that my imagination is engaged; scenes and ideas are filling in the spaces of the story in a satisfying way. I am still not sure of certain things, but I am living with the questions, turning them over in my mind.

There are two ways to look at the act of committing your thoughts and feelings to paper: 1) as a frightening revelatory act that leaves you less in control. or 2) as a way of taking your thoughts and fears and subduing them, like pinning butterflies to a wax tablet, so you can examine them more closely. 
The second is what has always motivated me.

Books need no towels or linen, just an inch on a shelf. And they'll talk to anybody who will listen.

These last two quotes aren't about writing, but they spoke to me just the same.

You can't jerk someone into the sunlight when grief is all they have left. We can see nothing with grief-struck eyes. That is what "blind with grief" means.

"Use your life to illuminate something larger." That's it. That's what we're all called to do.

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