New Paths

As you read this I am likely somewhere between my familiar surroundings in North Seattle and a hotel in San Rafael, California. I am a creature of habit, and so travel is good for me, if I let it be. It is good for me to wake up in a different bed in a different room and travel different roads and shop in different stores. It can be a little exhausting, all this alertness, but it reminds me that life is not something to be waited out in comfort. Interestingly, I will be San Rafael to visit with Anat Baniel, who is a vigorous proponent of deliberate variation. Eat with your left hand instead of right, she advises. Take a different route to work. Cook a different dinner every night. All this variation, all this unfamiliarity, awakens the brain as it charts new neural pathways. This is how the brain learns.

I certainly want my brain to learn. I consider myself lucky, then, to have chosen a discipline pointed so directly at the unknown. It was Alice Hoffman, author of 28 novels and counting, who told me, “Every novel I think, ‘How do I do this? I don’t know how to do this.’” Such is every writer’s starting place, if we are honest.

But we have chosen that starting place; we have chosen that blank page, chosen it specifically because it is blank. What a gift that emptiness; how inviting and non-judgmental. Now we must learn again what it is we meant to say. Now we must learn again even what we love. How could we have forgotten? But we always do. Always the circus of life pulls at our attention, always the noise and lights and argument and phone bills and appointments argue for their meaning.

Until once again there is only the blank page. Every word on that page another step on another new path of a sentence, one path leading to another, each one teaching us that we can always find another way home.

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

Remember to catch Bill every Tuesday at 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST on his live Blogtalk Radio program Author2Author!

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