The list of How-To books for writing can be daunting—everyone has an opinion. There are a lot of them out there, a lot that are no good. And even worse, there are a lot of good ones too. It's really a personal choice. Which is why you must know yourself before you seek outside yourself.
However, that said, my go-to how-to resource for any writer is simple:
Sure, it gets complicated after that. Merriam-Webster or Oxford?—don't do Oxford; it's for British English—online or book form?
I confess, I kept a dictionary from college for years and relied on the analog version heavily. But after such heavy usage, it could hardly stay together anymore. So I subscribe now to the unabridged Merriam Webster dictionary online. And I get the M-W Word of the Day sent to my email. It's usually the very first email I get every morning. And that makes me very happy.
So while I think most how-to writing resources out there are not needed, the dictionary (and with it the thesaurus) is indispensable. With this invaluable resource, I get to learn the base of words and its history—and with that knowledge, I can also decide if I want to throw it all away and give an old word a new twist. But I can't do that without the confidence of what a word means to start with, and if a better word already exists. (Not to mention if I'm spelling it right.)
Welcome to the first full day of fall. It's gray, rainy, and beautiful here in Portland. I invite you to fall in love with whatever this day brings to you.
I love puns
This is something I have always known about myself. I love puns. That and alliteration. I love alliteration.
Some will tell you it's overused so don't use it. It might be overused, but mostly, it's words' misuse that is a problem. I will never tell you to never use a word or words. If something is overused, it's because we have overpopulated the planet, and underpopulated our vocabulary. It's not the words' fault.
So why all this talk about puns?
Because it's a poetic device. And because, as you might note in my subject line, I welcome you to fall: the season...and also the leap of faith.
I have been struggling with the fall. Allowing it to happen. Figuring out what to do with it. Putting myself and my work out there.
In a journal entry recently, I wrote, "No one is going to catch you if you don't let yourself fall."
I have real control issues. I have vivid expectations, and I believe I fail every time reality falls short.
But here's the other thing about me: I also really love metaphors. Love love LOVE metaphors. They help me examine things I wouldn't otherwise comprehend.
Sort of the forest for the trees. I couldn't see all of the opportunities for what they are if I didn't have a big picture in mind, a Big Idea that guides my everything. Words would be just words if they were not my avenue to Truth. Truth through words is my way of understanding the world around me. When I see truth in words, I see the world differently. I start to understand the world, and more importantly, I start to understand things about myself. For example, I get excited about my ideas, but I often fall upon my very first step because of that excitement. I'm not very good at baby steps. For me, metaphors help me put things in a way that is more applicable, and accessible.
I also love big ideas
I have to confess something. This week was supposed to be the start of my first-ever Free Your Voice writing workshop.
It didn't happen.
But several other, very important things did. For one, I learned that initial excitement, for me, rarely translates to a successful project. I have to learn how to cash in on that rush, but then find a way to carry that through the rest of the work. Because there's always lots of work that needs to be done.
But the really big thing that happened was that I spent the weekend with the most amazing group of women, and a couple of kindhearted men. During the weekend we all shared our Big Ideas.
The funny thing, though, is that my Big Idea somehow changed the instant I walked through the door. Because sometimes we have a Big Idea that has to happen right now. And it defers all other actions. But it doesn't make those other ideas irrelevant or less important; it just postpones them. We have to know enough about ourselves to know what we really want and why we want it. Sometimes the universe simply helps us make it easier. (Given the choice, most of us would actually try to—and do—make it harder. Cold. Hard. Fact.)
For me, my Big Idea in the moment is to share my writing. And this weekend, I finally felt safe to do that. Because the women in the group provided space for it. They told me truths that I, with all of my words and wording, would have struggled to convince myself of.
But here's the thing: I don't want to share just my writing, I want to share writing in general. I want the world to experience it. I want other women to free their voices. This weekend I shared space with women who need to be heard. But we all have the same fears, the same hopes, even in our different ideas. That's why I realized, to share my writing has to come first, but by doing so, I am serving the women who also need to be heard.
In our differences we are the same
One of the things I hear over and over again is: "I can't put it into words" or "I have a hard time communicating my idea." And yet, almost without fail, I hear these same women, again and again, put their ideas into words beautifully.
Where there is passion, there is poetry
Where there is doubt, fear, there is society
The first thing I tell anyone who wants to write, or start a business, or follow a dream is: Know Yourself. It is beyond crucial. It is imperative. It is chief, paramount—singular. It is how we learn to discern between Your Voice and all the other voices of the world that have gotten stuck in our heads. It is why so many writers are known for their solitude. Why we look inward. To find the universal truth. A truth that speaks to everyone.
We need you to show up in the world as yourself.
My challenge to you...and myself
As fall starts, I struggle to not go immediately in, to watch the world from inside. That time will come. But first, I have work to do. It is harvest time. Before I can go in, I have to finish what I've started, reap what I've sown. That is why I am going to continue out this year as an editor, providing a high level of service to my clients. I will work with a consultant to develop a strategy to bring writing to women entrepreneurs and change-makers. I will also be compiling all of the work and poetry I have written over the years and print it.
You may be looking for answers. And you might turn outward to find them. But my challenge for you is to go back and look at what you have written—this week, this year, five, ten, twenty years ago. I think you know where to look. I think you already know the answer. And if you've not written it down, know this:
Sometimes the answer is in the asking.
"The great art of writing is the art of making people real to themselves through words." —Logan Perasall Smith