Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Can It Be All About You If It's All About Me? (Or, the self as lens)

I recently was honored to receive an award for my book-development and editing work. I don't know how it happened, exactly. True, I was taking my own design of flower essences for writers, including "Shining Star" which amps up the inner wattage on self-worth and making a contribution. True, I had been praying to reach people of like mind and heart. Maybe it was that.

When I was told that I had won the Elite Service Award, and would be featured in their "Spotlight," after I got through my "is it real?" skepticism I became quite thankful, and gladly answered the few questions they asked about my work. The results were beautifully put together on a very attractive page, and every time I look at it (you know I do), I see my own image looking back at me (a really nice photo, I admit, by photographer Lucie LeBlanc) ~ my own words coming back to me ~ and all sorts of nice perks and encomiums in the vicinity of my face, words, and name.

This is great. This is lovely. I'm delighted. I'm happy. It's good to be "chosen" ~ and the word "elite" already does something for a sagging ego, not to mention the "only 1% of services merit this award." So there is a wonderful external sign of my inner work and workings, up on the Internet for all to see. I'm #1. Sometimes it's great to think of yourself that way.

At the same time: If your real work is to mine the limitless treasures of what it means to be a human being  (dark and light, hidden and revealed, universal and particular), as I believe is the case with great writers,  sensitive therapists, dedicated artists, and the like ~ then putting yourself in the spotlight may need to benefit more than only you. Putting yourself in the spotlight is good for you, if it means that you get to shine in ways you want to, and let people know how trustworthy, talented, loving, etc. you are.  But how is it good for others when you are the focus of attention?

It depends, I think, on whether you are saying, in effect, "Look at me, me, me!" or saying, "Look with me into me so you can see you." That's what mystics and artists do: make the warranted assumption that if they can relate to something from within and open it up in such a way that it's there for everyone to relate to, they are giving others something precious by focusing on themselves. It's perhaps the difference between whether the "I" is opaque, not allowing any light to return out (only taking it in) or transparent (bringing back from one's inner travels something universal that can only be found within individual experience).

Lots more I could write on this, and probably will. For now, two things:

 1. Notice how I took the subject of my own "Spotlight" and turned it into something that might also be applicable to you. And,

2. Check out my Elite Thumbtack Award. The interview is interesting, and the photo, I must say, is great. I'm a little older than that now, but the spirit is still there. Thumbtack Elite award, Spotlight on Naomi Rose

"Once a soul has begun to read, every leaf of the tree becomes as a page of the sacred book of life." ~ Sa'di. 

Naomi Rose, Book Developer, creator of "Writing from the Deeper Self"

Publisher, Rose Press  
Books & Other Fragrant Offerings to Bring You Home to Yourself
(including Flower Essence Remedies for Writers & Readers)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Guest Blogger: Ann Luria

Intimate Details Evoked through Writing

In the spirit of writing intimate details, as I wrote about in my January-February Writing from the Deeper Self Newsletter (to be posted here later on), I am delighted to present my first guest-blogger, Ann Luria. Her beautiful poem illustrates how evocative writing can capture an idea, a feeling, an atmosphere better than abstract, explanatory writing.

Ann chose to chronicle her experience of cancer, some time back, in a haiku-like poem. The combination of the insight characteristic of her profession as a therapist with the telling details that bring a reader close in makes for a touching, illuminating, and compelling work that—though it is motivated by the desire to explore what underlies the cancer, as well as what to do about it—is not limited to that, or even just to her. Many people could relate to the feelings and images here.

I am moved by how this beautiful haiku goes deeply into the subject, how concretely it shows the workings of transformation. I love what the writer notices, and how she says it. I love “no way to be perfect now” in itself, and also juxtaposed with her cat Reuben wishing to be human.

Deep writing is not about being perfect. It’s about being so true that something universal is reached. I think that happens, here.

Haiku like
Raindrops fall on ground
Planning another surgery
I am thoughtful
Spidery green leaves
Burst Open
Like ducts of cancer
Waiting to be born
An onion grows old in the cabinet
Donning a rotten brown edge

Biting into a crisp
Blood red-apple
With a surprise-
A decayed part-

Peeling a firm yellow banana
Where did its tan crown come from?

Awaiting signs from the universe
A small re-excision
Or total breast reconstruction
My answer comes in nature’s forms.
Addictions melt away
Shedding their old skins
The gift of disease
There is no way to be perfect now!

Worry melts away
In nature’s heat
Doesn't matter what conclusion is reached-
The moon still bathes the nighttime sky
Beckoning the world
To a new darkness

Drinking glacier water
Standing on melted ice
How lucky I am.

Cat bathes in the moonlight
Chin turned up to the stars
Light pours in through closed mini blinds
How lucky we are.

Cold air frosts the plants
Writing pros and cons of surgery and which type-
Anxiety generates heat –
Will I ever make a decision?

Angular cells
with jagged edges
Multiple nuclei -
Unlike their circular cousins-
My doctor draws each -
Explaining why surgery is the only option
Thank G-d for him –
Like a pearl in an oyster
A small column of ductal cancer 
In situ -
Is unexpectedly found.

Shadows come alive
Stretching out tall like giants
Others root sideways
Widening and get smaller
Some ant forward
Flickering on and off
Like well lit candles
In the sun’s rays-
Breaking free of human forms.

Paw prints in the sink…
Reuben is caught again –
Drinking water from dripping facets
Nourishing himself -
Wishing to be human.

 Copyright © Ann Luria 2010. All rights reserved.

Ann Lurie is a therapist in private practice, so that the transformative healing journey is part and parcel of her work and being.  

Ursula LeGuin on How Your Book (or Story) Can Become What It Really Wants to Be

I've tended to avoid reading books on the writing craft, in recent years. Too much emphasis on technique, too little on attending to your inner experience and finding ways to articulate that.

However, I came upon a book by the astonishingly prolific writer Ursula K. LeGuin that I read from cover to cover. It has an interesting, metaphoric title: Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing fro the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew (Eighth Mountain Press, 1998).

And though LeGuin has deep and meaningful things to say, she manages to keep it light. In addition to her praise of long sentences (I loved that, because that's my heart's natural way), she offers a perspective on ego-free writing that, differently, meshes with what I have come to know: that something in us wants to be written through us, and in that process we are transformed.

She says it differently, and valuably. Here it is:

"Some people see art as a matter of control. I see it mostly as a matter of self-control. It’s like this: in me there’s a story that wants to be told. It is my end; I am its means. If I can keep myself, my ego, my opinions, my mental junk, out of the way, and find the focus of the story, and follow the movement of the story, the story tells itself.
"Everything I’ve talked about in this book has to do with being ready to let a story tell itself: having the skills, knowing the craft, so that when the magic boat comes by, you can step into it and guide it where it wants to go, where it ought to go."
I've experienced this, myself. So have the wonderful writers who become my clients. You start with one book, and it turns into what it really wants to be ~ and wants you to become, in the process.