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, April 8, 2010

The Cloud of Unknowing

I am a person who likes knowing what's going on. I plan way ahead, making lists, organizing materials, purchasing necessities. I almost never run out of things like toilet paper or ketchup or cereal. So facing a blank page when I sit down to work on either of two novels or the nonfiction piece that are simmering inside me, I am extremely uncomfortable.

In one, I have the three main characters, a seed of an idea for plot, and that's it. The other is only a voice that came to me in Ireland asking me to tell its story. I think it's female. It's whisper was genderless. Bits and pieces are coming in a very disjointed manner and it is disorienting. Yesterday I realized that the nonfiction piece needs to be more personal, not a guide as I originally thought. Just like my memoir, which began as a 700-page self-help tome. Then an editor told me to just "tell my story." Sheesh.

Sunday I did a little ritual around these writing pieces, asking Spirit to guide me. I also made a commitment to trust the process. The first draft is really only discovering what the story is. All I have to do is allow it to emerge, in its own time, in its own way. For someone who likes to be in control, being in this cloud of unknowing is hard. But after my ceremony, I am at least in a place of comfort with the process. It is what it is.

How do you deal with discomfort in your life and/or your writing and/or your work?



Sharon Lippincott said...

One thing that helps me keep going is to stop in mid-thought and leave the file open so I can sit down and start writing again. That works for me because I only turn off my computer when I'm leaving town. I know -- not very green. If I turned off my machine, I'd put a bookmark to that file on my desktop. Or use Word instead of OpenOffice -- Word makes it easy to go back to your project.

I'm with you on trusting process. I keep reminding myself of that too. But it's TEDIOUS, and I WANT RESULTS NOW!

Joanne said...

It depends, really. Sometimes things have to simmer with my writing, but that's usually more once I'm into a story and I'm trying to put pieces together. Other times I have to strong-arm the discomfort, the pauses and lapses, and push right past it with writing something. It's funny how just writing SOMEthing gets the juices flowing and next thing you know, I'm immersed.

Cyndi said...

Control is such a hot button for so many of us. Sounds like the process of writing this book may be a therapeutic way of releasing some of your own need for control. I admire your determination and can't wait to read it!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm a plow-through-it kind of person. Seems every day there's several items on my to-do list I REALLY don't want to do. I guess at that point I just become a little machine and get them done.

Don't let that blank paper scare you, Karen!

jdcoughlin said...

I do something else creative. I paint. I window shop. I cook or read. I do whatever I can to open up that side of my brain again.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

That blank piece of paper can stare at you with the paralyzing power of a basilisk. I know exactly what you mean. I try to have some idea of where I'm going before I write - even the first few steps can help. I've also discovered that once I start, new ideas seem to come as my fingers tap away on the keyboard. I'm certainly not a gifted enough writer to have gold appear on the first try - or the second, or the third. But every now and again, there's the faint shadow of a glimmer winking at me through the dark.

Ann said...

I have a story rolling around in my head. Very unsettling so it is. I have been introduced to four of the characters names. Have the basic premise, but my main character won't enlighten me any further at the minute. So what can one do only wait and wait and wait.

I hope your process helps you move along in the writing. It is exciting though, when bits of the story start to unravel onto the page. Love that!

Jemi Fraser said...

I don't plan or outline much, just sit down and let the story flow. So I don't worry too much about knowing what I'm doing. About the only thing I know for sure when I sit down is the final scene. For some reason, that scene tends to come first for me :)

Mason Canyon said...

I wish I was a plan ahead type. I try, but it doesn't always work for me. I'm doing a little better but I've got to keep working on it.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Making lists is something I've done for years, Karen. Sometimes I even remember to consult the lists and accomplish one or two of the items I've written down.

Right now the first thing on my list is "get more sleep." Our company (with one-year-old granddaughter) will be here a week longer than expected, so I think I'll start napping when she naps. We're having fun, but it's exhausting. I didn't plan ahead for this. :)

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