Posts Tagged ‘Brenda Ueland’

Curtiss Ann's front porch chair

Order me one of those! This is author CurtissAnn Matlock’s chair. Curtiss Ann is a lot of things — vibrant woman, mother, grandmother, passionate gardener, but first and foremost, she is a writer — everyday, all days. And surely she is as she puts out book after published book with boatloads of characters, fictionalized towns and settings and puts numerous scenarios into action every day. she doesn’t spend the majority of her time in this chair — but what a luxury!

So her “just sittin'” time is pretty limited, I would guess. But I’d love to be just sittin beside her. When I saw that photo on her blog, my heart just went pitty-pat, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. We’d have only one rule between us. We would share the just sittin’ time in silence and well……….just sit!

All the other times, we are so busy in action or in our head, we don’t allow the just sittin’ experience to grace our life very often. Curtiss Ann describes the challenge, itself, to make ourselves “just sit.” And I share that with you below.

Author Brenda Ueland calls this time “moodling”. My workshop participants loved the concept and loved doing it and took it home with them as a new breast plate — a right they had that they could freely exercise without guilt.

Ueland says she used to imagine inspiration came like a lightening bolt and at once “a rapt flashing of the eyes, tossing of the hair, feverish excitement followed by the poet or artist beginning furiously to write or paint”… and that she didn’t experience anything like that.

She says it comes slowly and quietly. She says it can be dreamy time before you begin to write anything. And to know, you are going to at some time write -tell something on paper. You have to dare to be idle, for the letting in of ideas. You cannot will them in. This quiet looking and thinking is the imagination. Good ideas come from this. Big ideas come from this. Wait for them.

So she says to dare to be idle, not to be pressed and duty-driven all the time. So, here from CurtissAnn’s blog is her take  on this subject. When you connect to her website, you find many more fun and inspiring ideas to tinker with.


 Taking Time

“One day last week, by the time the sun had come up over the trees, I had gone through my morning rituals, cleaned the bathroom, started a load of laundry and set off on a bike ride. By the time I returned from the bike ride that I normally enjoy, I realized little joy had been involved. I had done it because I thought I should. I had done all I did because I thought I should, and with little thought but by habit and faint voices of generations in back of me.

Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.  ~Carl Sandburg

Yesterday afternoon–by a determined decision to look away from pages that I’d been struggling to write, the messy kitchen, the gardenia bush wanting planting, oh, and all those ragged bushes that need trimming, what would people think!– I made a glass of sweet tea and sat in the porch chair.

Then I found myself looking at email and Twitter on my phone. Purposely, and like some alcoholic with a drink, I sat the phone aside and just looked around me.

Oh, how hard it has become for me to just sit!

Sitting and praying is acceptable, sitting and studying, planning with pen and paper, writing something, reading something–all of that producing something tangible is highly valued because of production. But just sitting? Taking time to really look at the scenery around me, let my body relax, let my true self have a chance to catch her breath and begin to wonder and imagine and speak wisdom. Such a concept was not something practiced in my family growing up. Nor is it valued in today’s fast-paced striving world. Today we want to see produce from every minute.

I learned… that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.” ~Brenda Ueland

There is value in just sitting. Immense value, and if we really believed this, we would do it. The treasure we seek and need is inside, but it has to have time to come out. To be let out. We have to take time for sitting in idleness, and we have to deliberately take the time, because the world is not going to hand it to us.

Eventually yesterday I did get quiet, and my mind bubbled up with interesting thoughts on a number of things. I saw the chapter I had been working on with new insight. And I ended up later having energy, and time, to plant the gardenia.

Today I mark on my calendar: Take time to sit.”


I end Napkinwriter today with a beautiful photo from Brenda Horton taken at their summer home on Mackinac Island where she captured her husband, Ted, looking like he has not one bit of trouble “just sittin” with his dog, Maddie. 

Read Full Post »

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.”                   

Read Full Post »