A couple weeks ago I received a note from a beautiful new friend who is interested in writing. “I have a passion for writing,” she said. “I just have trouble getting my thoughts out and I was wondering if you would be willing to give me any tips or suggestions.”
Would I? She may have regretted this innocent query because I proceeded to flood her inbox with an influx. One of the books I recommended to her was Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life. It’s one of my favorite books on writing, a sort of abbreviated version of The Artist’s Way. And then I remembered we did this book as one of our book club selections at The High Calling. I thought it would be fun to re-run that series here on Wednesdays. Cool? Here is my introductory post that was featured at The High Calling a few years ago:
I start with the usual, the question that invites me into her world. Tell me a little about what brings you here. Tell me your story. She is alone. No family, just this one. But she looks around, bewildered. If I had read her chart ahead of time I would know. The stroke that ravaged her brain has left her with dysphasia —a language disorder that fights against the flow of words. She struggles.
Too late I realize my mistake. I’ve seen this look before. I begin to back pedal, search for a way to soothe her in this loss. But then, it comes out. I don’t know, she says, haltingly, everything was so perfectly, wonderfully beautiful…and then suddenly, it was not so. This would be the longest sentence she says to me her entire stay in the hospital. I think about this gentle woman later in the day. I think about her before I go to bed. And I think about her the next morning.
Why do I write? Why should I write? In the coming weeks we’ll be looking in depth at that question as we read together The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life. In the introduction, author Julia Cameron says:
We should write because it is human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance as well.
We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living…We should write because writing is good for the soul…We should write, above all, because we are writers whether we call ourselves writers or not. The Right to Write is a birthright, a spiritual dowry that gives us the keys to the kingdom…
I write, in part, because eternity is set in my heart. I desire to leave a part of me behind when I go—or when the world is suddenly not so wonderfully, perfectly beautiful. As Shakespeare says in Sonnet 65…in black ink my love may still shine bright. Life is fragile. When I record what I see, I attend all the more to the finest of details.
Won’t you join me on this journey? I’ll be discussing The Right to Write by Julia Cameron every Wednesday. We have forty-three chapters to cover, so we’ll do three a week, for a total of thirteen weeks. Each chapter has an exercise at the end that serves as an initiation tool. Don’t let this scare you! These are short, simple exercises designed to awaken creativity and I would encourage you to try them out. So come and learn about life and writing with us, and join the discussion in the comments. It will be like attending a writer’s conference from your couch.
This post was originally published at The High Calling and is reprinted here under a creative commons license. Some minor changes have been made to account for context.