Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Cloud of Unknowing

I can't take credit for the title of this post. It is a book written by a 14th century monk. I've always loved the title, because it accurately reflects a spiritual journey. So often, we are asked to surrender to something we don't know, don't understand, don't necessarily agree with, and sometimes it's just darn hard!

My new writing project is like this. Fiction is a whole new world to me. Memoir was a piece of cake. I had my journals. I'd lived the experiences I was writing about. Grappling with the emotions wasn't easy, but I knew what I was grapping with.

This time, I don't yet know the characters, the plot, the conflicts, none of the elements that make fiction fiction. Yet, I have received inner guidance that I am to do this. I am to trust the process. So, day after day, I sit. I am reading some books I have been drawn to that might pertain to the book. Perhaps I need to immerse myself in them until something emerges.

Oh how I envy those of you who dream up characters and storylines and can make detailed outlines to follow. At least I'm not just sitting and staring at a blank page or screen. If nothing comes, I journal, or walk, or practice singing. Or I edit my workshop presentation which is coming up pretty soon. And yes, I am equating writing with a spiritual journey because, to me, it is. Everything that happens in my life is part of my journey towards inner peace and contentment.

How do you handle the cloud of unknowing in your lives?



Cyndi said...

I have no advice for you since I've never written fiction but just wanted to say that I'd be in the same boat as you if I tried. Hopefully others will have more words of wisdom for you. :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

It sounds like you're handling it really well, actually!

It *is* like a big cloud. Large outlines turn me off because I can see all the different directions that a plot could go in...and I don't want to commit to just one. So I'll just plan out that chapter, or that page, or even just a short scene. The plot starts coming into focus.

I'm working on chapter one of a new book now. All I know is that I'm exploring a character from a previous book a little more and that someone this character knows is murdered. But I haven't gotten any farther than that. I have no idea who did it or who the suspects even are. That's all for later on in the story.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

I'm in agreement wit Elizabeth..it sounds like you're doing a great job with this!

Although reading is my forté, I have written a few short stories and poetry. For me, there are times when the words are just there. I quickly grab a pen or get on the comptuer and the words just flow...

That fits in with your equating writing as a spiritual journey. There is something inside that just speaks - actually sometimes shouts at me. I've learned to listen to it in the same way that I've learned to listen to my inner voice in every circumstance or situation in life.

Another wonderful topic, Karen! I do so enjoy how you provoke such introspection from me. We are - all of us - on a journey, and writing is just one of the many facets of it.

Joanne said...

Contemplation is a part of writing too, so let that happen. Sometimes I'll dig deeper into researching a subject in the book, a character trait or occupation or situation. What I learn in the research often helps me to shape parts of the story, with a certain authenticity as well.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I may not know the exact way my story will progress and end, but I let my characters take over and lead me along. It's an exciting adventure. I'm not an outliner or researcher. A word, a sentence, etc. will jog a story line in my head and off I go!

Helen Ginger said...

I used to write by the seat of my pants, but more and more I'm outlining or at least doing visual connection of characters and plot points. Yesterday, I went with friends to walk through the Bill Witliff museum at TSU. One section has displays of some of the authors who have donated their archives to the university. One had a wonderful charting of one of his books. It was fascinating to see what he'd done.

Straight From Hel

The Old Silly said...

Ours is not to know the future, but to be firmly in the here and now, where everything is anyway. I think you're doing fine. Like my main man JC sez,"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Marvin D Wilson

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

It sounds like you're handling it all very well to me, too. I'm never sure when I sit down to write where it's going to lead me or the characters - but then I always liked surprsies!

Anonymous said...

I use this cloudiness as an opportunity to develop the plot by making unexpected left turns when the reader thinks I'm making a right. I always see opportunities regardless of the situation.

Stephen Tremp

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Everyone has to find their own process; what works for one person might never work for someone else. You seem to be finding your way very nicely. It will come when it's ready.


Tabitha Bird said...

The clod of unknowing both inspires me and frustrates the .... out of me! I want to see everything worked out a ahead of time, and yet I know if I did I would be BORED! Ah, life. How sweet the sound!

Meredith Morgan said...

I rather like being in the "Cloud of Unknowing". For me, writing through the unknowing is where creativity and growth happen. I use and outline more and more frequently as I gain more experience, but I leave big holes in the framework to allow my characters to fill in the gaps.