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Archive for October 21st, 2011

ALIVE - Wall Photo by Calming Your Inner Storm

And WHY should people use….their creative powers and write or paint or play music or whatever it tells them to do? “Because there is nothing that makes people go generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money. Because the best way to know Truth or Beauty is to try and express it, i.e, share it with others.” That’s the reason author and teacher of writing, Brenda Ueland, gives in her classic book first published in 1938, “If You Want To Write, a Book about Art, Independence and Spirit”.

And she adds, “Whenever I say ‘writing’ in this book, I also mean anything that you love and want to do or to make….You must be sure imagination and love are behind it…”

Besides cookbooks, I think I heard that the category on HOW TO write books is the biggest in volume.  So it is probably better to just get going on your own writing than to read everyone’s how to book. You are sure to stumble upon something original in your own writing sooner that way I think.

But Brenda Ueland’s book is more than about writing. It is encouragement to find and be the truth of yourself even as you put your pen to paper. Probably one of the most often quoted phrases of hers is ….”Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” 

Right there is a big wad to chew on for many creative people (which is all of us)….think of it, how many of us know early on, with no reservation we are indeed talented and original and….important. The sooner we get that, and get it straight, the sooner creativity’s potentials and possibilities open before our very own eyes.

Ueland had it pretty straight. She wrote a book about writing that said it is really about having values, about belief (in the imagination and its relation to personal integrity), and about the bravery of coming to understand yourself and of putting marks down on paper.

She was the author of two books, many articles and short stories and a long-time teacher of writing. Born in Minneapolis in 1891, her father was a lawyer and judge and her mother a suffrage leader.  She spent many years living in New York, where she was part of the Greenwich Village bohemian crowd.  After her return to Minnesota she earned her living as a writer, editor and teacher of writing for many years.

In her active and vital life of 93 years, she published six million words, was knighted by the king of Norway, and set an international swimming record (for over 80 year olds).

She had two rules she followed absolutely: to tell the truth, and not do anything she didn’t want to do. Her sassy and wonderful spirit of independence and joy made her writing and teaching all the more compelling. Yet the quest is the same for all of us:

                “But we must try to find our True Conscience,
                  our True Self, the very Center, for this is the only
                  first-rate choice-making center. Here lies all
                  originality, talent, honor, truthfulness, courage
                 and cheerfulness.”                   

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