I’m tired of hearing people moan, “I can’t write a word”; to which I respond, “How often do you try?” I couldn’t write a decent word either, if I didn’t practice and work at it, just like runners have to train before they can run marathons.
If I hadn't read mountains of books when I was young, my intuitive self probably wouldn’t understand basic story structure and proper grammar…but I did read mountains of books. Those books are all in me. I ate them, one by one. Now I carry their structure, their lessons, their rhythms with me. They guide me into the deep tangled bushes of possibility and enable me to clear the path to the story. It’s like understanding the lay of the land because you spent so many hours in the forest. Or knowing the currents of the sea, because you sailed it.
Herbert is a good example. A few years ago, we overnighted at the Lighthouse Inn on Quirpon Island at the very tip of Newfoundland’s northern peninsula. A gale blew all night long. The next morning the wind had calmed, but the seas remained rough. Herbert, a quiet, steady Newfoundlander, togged out in an olive green rain slicker, took us back to the mainland in his small open boat with an outboard motor. As the boat fell into troughs, I uneasily eyed the waves above us.
I remember Herbert calmly sidling up to a rocky channel and idling the boat, watching the white frothing waves churn through the narrow opening. I wondered if he was looking for an alternative route. Suddenly the motor powered up and we were speeding toward the opening. Horrified, I realized he intended to go through. Just as we reached the channel, the waves subsided and we motored through without difficulty. After that, I trusted him. Herbert knew this seacoast.
If you want to feel the forest, walk through it. If you want to understand sea, spend time in a boat. If you want to write, read. If you want to write well, practice.
This is what Write from the Soul is all about. Check the details for this workshop coming up on September 20th. I still have just a few seats left. Act fast. Deadline for registration: Sept. 12.