Writing practice, March 6, 2013
“Today it smelled like recess.
Like the first hope of spring, when the layers of snow peeled back to reveal autumn's debris, the ruined plastic rakes with splintered handles, the tipped buckets half-full of leaves, the inevitable beloved stuffed animal, lost and flattened and mouldering. Like walking to school in sneakers instead if soured boots, mittens left in our pockets, giddy from the lack of weight on our small bodies.
Today it smelled like recess. Like green grass poking through the webbing of last year's leaves and clippings, like tulips peeking from muddy earth, like hackey sack and too-early soccer games and mud-spattered jeans. It smelled like frosty air blowing down from snow covered mountains, the promise that winter was not over, not yet.
Today, it smelled like that. Like hope and renewal, like green, fresh things pushing up from the old compost of yesteryear, like the buried things uncovered…”
All writing falls eventually into a winter; a silent time of reflection and deep white drifts of nothingness covering our minds. It is a time to relax, to contemplate, to compost.
In the phenomenal book Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg describes writing practice as composting our lives, churning memory and senses and thoughts over and over until they become the fertil soil of imagination. And from there, we find the richness in ourselves we seek. And then, we write with that richness of being.
I'm a believer in composting, in following the seasons of ourselves and our writing.
We do not write outside the existence of our lives. We write in the rhythm of living; seeking to dive in and transform the desperate handful of moments we have in the world into something outside of us, something that touches others in the small ways, comforting ways that make the world a richer place to live in.
We need to write—we need to write from deep within, to process and turn through the decayed selves we once were, the memories and smells and emotions and deeper truths to be found within, we need to spring, ever hopeful and green from the remnants of ourselves.
And to use what we have learned, to be who we are, and tell the stories that naturally grow from that fertile ground of our own hearts, and to own those stories without judgement, without reservation or fear or censorship.
Because our stories are the natural consequence of our lives, of our obsessions and pasts and hair color and names and hobbies and sorrows and scars and joys. They are part of us, raw and real and alive. It is important to accept our selves, to churn through our minds in search for what matters, what is ready to be said.
When the silence of winter comes over us, it is time to listen. It is time to churn through our words and memory, to fall deep into truth with ourselves.
And then write what springs green and new from our hearts, as soon as the frost is gone.
Photo credit: irowboat