Friday, March 21, 2008

the thought and its thinker

Usually I try to direct myself before I get started here. Today I am starting a little differently because I don’t know where I am going I just have this feeling. It began with a thought, of course, but I can’t pinpoint what one. My mind has long since hid it away. Most brains do that. As you learn about your brain these thought become more transparent. Or I guess I like the onion metaphor. With each insight into your self, you peel away another layer of the onion and move closer to some more base center, where the thought happens and the layers of action and reaction aren’t so many. But a thought is still a flash in the pan and if you didn’t notice it when it happened, all of a sudden it is just gone and you are left with the feeling in the pit of your stomach and, for me, a mind grasping for what it is that makes me feel this way. Really the feeling and the original thought don’t matter. Just feel it and move on. It’s the grasping that is the trouble.

I have watched my mind long enough that I see what the grasping does. It keeps me up at night. My mind reaches out. Looking for the thing that makes me this way. My brain will search until it finds something, running its hands over my memories, past actions until it finds what I did or said that warrants regretful feelings. And it is not necessarily the original thing that set me off, it is just a thing that works in its place. You can see where this circle can be kind of endless and painful.

And I think I know where today's feeling started. I have come to realize my attachments that I have to my own words as I have been trying to figure out this POV thing. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t love my words. I should love the plethora of them. I do love the habit of them, the comfort and fun and challenge I feel when working with them. It’s just the attachments to particular pieces and particular phrases blind me. I can’t see what they are doing because I want them to be like my imagination of them. To hold a readers interest with some skill requires picking and choosing, receiving feedback, and hearing it when it is given, and being grateful for honesty. And that is where my embarrassment started, at the thinking that my words were so great that I didn’t see the problems in them. I haven’t even heard that the words aren’t great. That is the silly thing. I’m just anticipating it. But in the week since I wrote them I have learned a lot. And I now think I know what I’m doing. At least I know a little more than I did before. So I am going to feel the embarrassment, and realize it makes sense that I am embarrassed. I don’t want people to know that I don’t know what I am doing. And get back to work, because in the end, it is the work that is important.

As Always (even better),

Writing Exercise:
This is a Natalie Goldberg exercise. Do some freewriting. Start with the phrase “I think” and continue from there. When you get stuck return to the phrase and start over. If you cant think of anything repeat the phrase over and over again until something occurs to you. Do this for a good long time. And then turn the phrase on its head, freewrite again starting with the phrase “I do not think…” Repeat.