Tools For The Journey


I’m writing to you with the very newest version of Word, which I was forced to purchase after my upgrade to the newest Mac OS made my old version of Word obsolete. I’ve also had to install the latest and completely redesigned GarageBand. It looks great, though I haven’t even begun to figure out what all the new buttons do. I’m all for technology and its inevitable evolution, the 2.0’s and 3.0’s and 12.0.4’s, but I admit I am not quite as excited about learning how to use the new technology as I once was.

While it makes me feel a little old to say that, it also reminds me of every writer’s learning curve. There’s a lot to know about the linguistic and narrative “technology” of a story or poem or essay, to say nothing of a novel or a memoir. There’s the grammar and punctuation that we learn as children, but there is also what makes for real-sounding dialogue, and the nuance of tempo from sentence to sentence, and the constant challenge of rendering a physical, three-dimensional world using nothing but words. When we’re at the beginning of the curve we might read a lot of books or take a lot of classes or just generally find ourselves asking, “How do I do this?”

This learning will never really end. After over thirty years, I continue to refine and refine my craft. There reached a point, however, where I accepted that if I knew what I wanted to say I could find a way to say it. That’s when I became far more interested in another question: What do I want to say? I had given myself the tools to make anything – absolutely anything. What did I want to make?

Once that becomes the dominant question of your writing life, most other questions soon pale in relevance. The creative journey has turned wholly inward, where it will remain. The technology of language and story is for the external world, the world we all share, but my attention is now largely elsewhere. It’s an odd journey, when you think about it. So much learning about that external world and how it works, and all so that I might better harvest what I find within, from that sovereign realm of thought and feeling and perception. The further in I go, the more I understand it is a realm ruled entirely by love, which only calls me in further, toward the source of everything I’d ever want to make.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.