Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Writer’s Block

Learning to Trust Your Intuition – Your Writer’s Voice

When I am painting and when I am writing, I consider it a great day when something within myself takes over and essentially completes my project for me. This gentle urging is intuition. It is the spark that helped Michelangelo release his sculptures from a piece of rock, and it is your writer’s voice.

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Yesterday, I wrote about my use of brilliant colors when I paint at jackikellum.com Here

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Janis Joplin – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

Readers commented that they admire my bravery when I paint, and I should have said that I am not the brave part of my painting team. My intuition is. When I am having a good painting day, an inward force literally takes control of my hand and urges it to dip into a little more and slash it here or a little pink and slash it there.

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In the Pink – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

If I look carefully at my painting repeatedly and squint my eyes regularly as I paint, an internal voice takes over and tells me what to do where. I merely go into auto pilot, and I allow my intuition to do the heavy lifting. When I am having a good writing day, the same thing happens with my words–they begin to write themselves.

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I wrote a poem about how my intuition guides me as I write. The title of that poem is On Silver Sheets, I Sail. When I am writing my first drafts, I usually write in a stream of consciousness. I don’t stop and edit myself. I rarely correct my spelling as I writer. I simply hop on my laptop and begin typing the words that enter my mind. I love this type of writing. When I edit, however, my stream of consciousness is not at play, and I no longer enjoy writing. People who try to edit themselves too early never allow themselves to enjoy the intuition’s free ride, and they often feel that they are experiencing Writer’s Block. They are actually experiencing a type of fear that is the enemy of creativity.

Fear is the worst thing that can happen to anyone who hopes to create.

Fear prevents the painter from painting, and he forces the writer to edit himself literally to death.

Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know: Ten Principles for Total Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment by [De Angelis, Barbara] Barbara de Angelis wrote an excellent treatise on Fear: [image credit Amazon]

“Imagine that you had a person in your life who followed you around twenty-four hours a day, filling you with anxiety, destroying your confidence, and discouraging you from doing the things that you wanted to do. Every time you were about to make a change or take a risk, the person would say, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. What if you fail? What if you get hurt? All kinds of things might happen if you go in that direction.’ Imagine that before each conversation you had with friends, family, or loved ones, the person would pull you aside and caution you. ‘If you open up, you might get rejected. Watch what you say! Don’t trust anyone! . . . ” Barbara De Angelis

Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night.

“It’s your fear. Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night. It talks to you, manipulates you, and tries to convince you to avoid doing or expressing anything that may cause you any kind of discomfort or involve any sort of risk. It says, ‘You can’t’ . . . and ‘You shouldn’t.,’ and it eats away at your confidence and your self-esteem. It tells you not to act, not to reach out, not to try, not to trust, not to move. It steals the life right out from under you. . . .” Barbara De Angelis

Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness.

“Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness. How does fear do that? It keeps you stuck in what’s not working. It prevents you from growing. It keeps separation between you and other people. It talks you out of your dreams. It keeps you stagnant, frozen, unable to become all you were meant to be. . . .” Barbara De Angelis

“It is fear that keeps us standing on the cliff when we know that we need to leap to the other side. But fear does more than just hold you back–it steals your aliveness, your passion, your freedom by shutting down your heart. . . .The extent to which you allow fear to control your life is the extent to which you are living as a prisoner.

I read De Angelis’s book 25 years ago, and it is undoubtedly the most inspirational of any self-help book that I have ever read.  Although the book is supposedly for women, I feel that the passages about Fear are appropriate for most artists and writers. Fear is one of a creative’s most crippling forces.

After years of being muted by my own fear, I finally gained enough stamina to simply override my restraints and to create in spite of my fear. But that was a long and uphill climb.

 You can read excerpts from De Angelis’s book on her Facebook Page Here

You can also read a great deal of her writing at Google Books Here

When I saw that today’s writing prompt is “Trust,” I initially thought of the song on the movie Peter Pan, You Can Fly.

“All it takes is faith and trust. Oh, and something I forgot. . . just a little bit of pixie dust. . . .
Come on everybody, here we go–Off to Neverland! . . .
There’s a Neverland waiting for you, where all your happy dreams come true,
Every dream that you dream will come true.”

I know, you are probably thinking that you simply don’t have the pixie dust, but you do. Everyone has the pixie dust that is needed for creating. It is your intuition. I am firmly convinced that a type of creative angel does lie within each of us and that as we begin the process of writing or painting or sculpting or dancing, we release that muse, and the muse takes on a life of its own. It is important to note, however, that it is through the work that we tap into the muse. In other words: “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” In regards to writing, the work of simply writing comes first, and the muse follows.

“One reason I don’t suffer Writer’s Block is that I don’t wait on the muse, I summon it at need.” – Piers Anthony

When people say that they only write when they are in the mood to write, they are missing something very important. In fact, they are cheating themselves. In writing, “the mood” or the muse evolves after we begin to write. Perpetuating the myth that we can postpone writing until we are in the mood to write is buying into a falsehood. That is why many writers advocate writing morning pages. Most people who actually succeed with their writing careers say that in order to pop the cork that is bottling all of the things that are within themselves, they must first begin to write. Gradually, the mood or the muse or the intuition takes over, and the writer is unblocked.

Writing is a spiritual practice in that people that have no spiritual path can undertake it and, as they write, they begin to wake up to a larger connection. After a while, people tend to find that there is some muse that they are connecting to. Julia Cameron

The most important decision that is necessary for every writer and every painter and every musician is that of deciding whether you really want to be an artist or not. After that, the most important step is to show up each day and begin to work at creating what you want to create.

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

After you have committed to showing up to write each day, do the following to unlock your muse or your intuition or your artistic voice:

First, You Need to Prime Your Pump

1. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. Start there!

Initially, you might not be able to recall any of your passions. You might think that life has kicked all of the passion out of you,  but you are wrong. If that were true, you wouldn’t be here, sitting in front of the computer, trying to decide what to write. You would still be vegetating in front of the television. You are still alive. Dig deeper.

2. Overcome Lethargy

Perhaps you feel that you are sinking in the quicksand of your own lethargy. Keep a canister of writing prompts handy to fight that problem, and when you are experiencing writer’s block, pull out one of those prompts and write about that.

The New York Times published a list of 500 great writing prompts Here.

Grab hold of one of those prompts and allow it to be your rope. Allow that to pull you out of your pit of lethargy.

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Every morning, I try to respond to the WordPress Daily Prompt. Read how you can also do that Here. Today’s writer’s prompt is “Trust.”

3. Begin with a Quote

Often, when I see the WordPress Daily Prompt, I cannot initially think of anything to write. When a prompt is not enough to motivate me, I often turn to Google, and I do a Google search for quotes that might correlate with a word that I associate with the prompt. One morning’s WordPress Prompt was “Admire,” and I was not readily drawn to that topic. I performed two Google searches. One time I searched exactly the following words: “Quotes Admire.” The second time, I searched exactly the following words, “Quotes Admiration,” and after my searches, it was not long before I had written my own opinions about the prompt “Admire.” You can see what I wrote Here 

4. Write First – Title Later

When I begin writing a piece, I refrain from titling it. In fact, I do not title anything until I finish writing the piece entirely. Titling is a Writing-Stopper. A title is like a straight jacket. If you try to title first, you limit yourself because you write trying to confine yourself to the topic of the title. Just write, let the title spring from the writing. Begin to say what you want to say and allow your writing to evolve. Then title.

5. Allow Your Intuition to Do the Heavy Lifting of Your Writing

Creating any type of art requires that a series of decisions be made by the artist: red here? more grass? less water?, etc. When the intuition is fully functioning, the artist is hardly even aware of the questions–the intuition handles the question and answer dialog. Before this can happen, however, the artist must first allow Intuition to get his foot into the door; and then, the artist must learn to trust the decisions that Intuition makes for him. Intense listening with one’s inner ear–the intuitive ear– is a vital part of sharpening one’s inner eye or his writer’s voice and thus, of extracting a piece’s inward significance. Intuition and the Inner Artist are linked. Intuition is the instinctive way that one’s inner artist views and responds to life. When a painter allows intuition to guide him, the painter himself becomes a vessel and the art flows through the vessel. The same thing is true of the writer.

Knowing why one does this or that while creating is not important–just doing is the key to becoming. Making art is an intuitive response. When writers can access the words that lie within themselves, they begin to write more authentically. When writers create from within their intuitions, they often call that writing from “The Zone,” but it is actually writing from the intuition, which a reservoir of thoughts and emotions that run deeply within each person. The secret is tapping into that reservoir. You simply have to turn off your self-editor and allow the magic to begin. And then you have to Trust the process.

6. Don’t Worry About What Everyone Else Is Thinking about Your Writing

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Other people aren’t focusing on you. Quite worrying about what they think of you.  Just focus on yourself and your own goals and begin to write. Remember that you are writing to express yourself–not to express everyone else. Just talk–in plain language [Shakespearean English is out]–and say why these words are meaningful to you. People are more alike than you might think. Others will identify. Write it, they will read.

7. Write Naturally – Give Up the Idea that You Should Write Like Shakespeare

Please Don’t Thee and Thou Me
by Jacki Kellum

Please don’t Thee and Thou me.
That’s such a stuffy start.
That’s not the way to wow me,
Just say it from your heart.
©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

Jacki Kellum Rules for Writing Poetry – Rule Number 1

  1. Don’t try to use stilted, pretentious, poetry-sounding words. Just talk.

©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

7. Turn Off Your Self-Editor

Write first. Let it flow. Just talk. Spell later. As you begin to write, don’t worry about spell check at first. Getting stumped by spelling is another Writing-Stopper. Write first–then spell check; then correct the spelling. It might even help to do the writing and editing in a Word Document and then paste it into WordPress. Whatever it takes, do it, but don’t let you editing strangle your writing.

8. Consider Recording Your Writing and Then Transcribing It

If you cannot keep your self-editor in check, allow your cell phone‘s voice recorder to help you.  Just pick up your cell phone and download a voice recorder app and talk to the recorder. You can even send yourself lengthy voice messages and transcribe those. A friend of mine had a great idea for this. She said to send your message to yourself via email, and it will already be typed for you. How easy is that?

Image result for stephen kingIn his book Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, King said that he believes “…that stories are found things, like fossils in the ground….” He added:

“Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing word. The writer’s job is to…get as much of each one out of the ground [p. 163] intact as possible.

….

“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice. The story which results from it is apt to feel artificial and labored.

“I lean more heavily on intuition, and have been able to do that because my books tend to be based on situation rather than story.

“I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one_in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to help them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety..but to watch what happens and then write it down.

“The situation comes first. The characters–always flat and unfeatured, to begin with–come next. … I have never demanded of a set [p. 164] of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want them to do things their way. In some instances, the outcome is what I visualized. In most, however, it is something I never expected.” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of Craft, pgs. 163-65.

 

©Jacki Kellum October 16, 2016

Trust

Jacki Kellum Free Writing Class – Blog to Memoir Find Your Path – Day 1

Buckle your seatbelt. You are about to begin one of the most powerful journeys of your life. As you may or may not know, this is phase 1 of 4 events that will not only change the way that you look at life but will also enlighten you about the way that you write–about the way that you write everything and not just about the way that you write Memoir.

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Blog to Memoir: Find Your Path is Phase 1 of the entire Blog to Memoir Program,which will arrive in intervals over the next year.  Find Your Path is the simplest of the four phases. In fact, as you complete the first half of the daily writings for Find Your Path, you will probably begin to balk, feeling that you have not been challenged and that you are possibly wasting your time. Mark this spot and highlight these words: Do ALL of the writing exercises–even the ones that seem ridiculously simple. There is a method to my madness. The initially very simple and non-threatening writing exercises are designed to overcome problems that writers may have formed

  1. Writer’s Block – Most of us are plagued by writer’s block to one extent or another. Most of us have been bullied by our Self-Editors, and most of us are a little bit leery of writing because of our Self-Editors.
  2.  Writing with Pretty but Meaningless Words – Others of us may have formed some bad writing habits, such as  cloaking our passages with pretty, but meaningless images.
  3. Writing What You Believe that People Want or Expect You to Write – Another problem occurs when we write what people expect us to write and we fail to write what is truly on our minds.
  4. Writing that is Safe –  One of the worst mistakes that a writer can make is that of failing to take a stand.
  5. Writing that is Superficial – Many of us are slightly afraid to peer into some of our darker corners, and we may have developed a tendency to write about abstractions and about things that aren’t terribly personal.

Great writing is deliberate and specific, and poor writing is generalized. One of the biggest mistakes that a writer can make is to write about things that seem to interest everyone else but that only vaguely interests himself. That is like being the person who always tries to please everyone and who continuously straddles the fence, trying to do so. Invariably, the fence straddlers are those people who want to please everyone and in doing so, they please no one at all.

“You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

In the current realm of Social Media, where being “liked” becomes the raison d’etre, it becomes tempting to simply chit chat when we write. In other words, it becomes tempting to use meaningless words that won’t offend anyone at all. Being liked is important to most people. It has certainly always been important for me, and at times, I have stayed in the middle of the road–striving to please everyone, but I didn’t even like myself when I was doing that.

As we move through the course, I’ll be saying more about all of the above. For now,  I simply want us to jump right into the writing. I do want to assure you that by writing all of the responses to the very simple and almost safe prompts in Phase 1 of the Blog to Memoir Course, you will gradually break out of some of the behaviors that I have outlined above. After about a week of writing, I’ll begin to explain things that you need to know about these behaviors and about why you need to write more authentically. To begin, however, simply write. Your initial writings will be short and sweet, but I have plans for your extra time.

What The Free Jacki Kellum Writing Course Is Not

  1. This course will not be your confessional. It will not challenge you to write a series of tell-all’s, and it will not dare you to slice open your veins and bleed.
  2. This course is not about some radical therapy, and it will not be a substitute for Alcoholics Anonymous, for joining Codependency Groups and for seeing your mental health professional. When I suggest that you look into your past, I am not prodding you to exorcise all of the demons that might be there. That is someone else’s job.
  3. This course is not for people who want to continue to wallow in the pain of their pasts,

What The Free Jacki Kellum Writing Course Is

  1. This course is a logical next step for many people who have already identified that things were not perfect for them when they were children. This course is for people who are ready  to move on.
  2. This course  is for people who want to alchemize the experiences of their childhood and to allow them to transform into gold.

Jacki Kellum Free Writing Course Exercise 1: Write about a County

The first Blog to Memoir writing assignment might seem easy, but don’t over-analyze the assignment or your response. Simply think about all of the County or a Region where you have lived and describe it. Grab a breath of fresh air and begin writing.

  1. Don’t stop writing for about ten minutes.
  2. Don’t hesitate,
  3. Don’t erase.
  4. Don’t correct your spelling.
  5. Don’t try to edit as you write.

In a matter-of-fact way that as near to your own speaking voice as possible, simply write what you know about a county or region where you have lived. You may want to describe the natural setting of the county. You may want to share a legend that you have heard about the county. You may want to say what you liked about the county and you may want to say what you disliked. As long as you are honest, it really does not matter what you write. Just write.

When I write a description, I close my eyes and look with my mind’s eyes at what I am describing. When I see the place or the object clearly, I simply write the words that describe it.

Later, we’ll do more with your writing for this first assignment. Don’t throw it away. It is not necessary for you to share what you write. It is not necessary that you blog your response. Simply write and save your writing.

Learning to write about setting and places essential for every writer in every genre. When we are able to zoom in on an area that we truly know, we create better settings and we are better able to bring those settings to life.

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William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County

  1. William Faulkner’s writing focused on what appears to be the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha, but Yoknapatawpha County is actually Lafayette County in Mississippi. It is the county where Oxford, Mississippi is located, and Oxford is where William Faulkner lived. 
  2. William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County evolved over time, and in the beginning, no one is expected to recreate a county of that portion. But everyone, even William Faulkner, began somewhere, and our actual memories are the best place to start.  
  3. As I said before, we’ll continue to explore our writing about our counties. What you write today is only your first step,

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

Most of us would like to forget or bury some of the chapters of our pasts, but that is not actually possible. In trying to forget who we are and where we have been, we only succeed in numbing ourselves and killing our authentic writing voices.  The secret to becoming a better writer is to tap into your past and harness it and allow it to sail you forward.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens – by Arthur Rackham

“You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.” – James M. Barrie [ Author of Peter Pan]

Why Blog to Memoir?

  1. When we write about the actual experiences of our lives, our writing is fresher, more alive, and more authentic. For that reason, excavating your memories is an invaluable exercise–a way to create vivid writing samples for any of your other writing.
  2. It is not necessary for you to actually blog your writing. You may simply check out the daily writing exercises and explore them on your own. Throughout the course, however, I’ll share several ways that blogging daily has improved both my writing and my outlook on life. I heartily recommend writing daily, and for several reasons, I am convinced that blogging is the best way to store your writing. Blogging regularly is also a good way to build your brand and to share your writing with others. Note: You do not have to make your blog public.
  3. Several people have successfully completed books by blogging the parts of their books one by one and then, by assembling the parts of the book at the end. This practice has been labeled Blog to Book. For the past year, I have been blogging my memoir [and several other books] one step at a time. Soon, I plan to assemble my memoir pieces together and to submit my own memoir book for publication. Hence: I Am Blogging to Memoir  Book, and you can, too.

“We’ve forgotten how to remember, and just as importantly, we’ve forgotten how to pay attention. So, instead of using your smartphone to jot down crucial notes, or Googling an elusive fact, use every opportunity to practice your memory skills. Memory is a muscle, to be exercised and improved.” – Joshua Foer

I’ll run the free writing class through my blog site jackikellum.com Here
& through the site that I specifically created for the class: blogtomemoir.com. Here

Each day,  I’ll post the daily assignment by 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time USA. I believe that early morning is the best time to write and for that reason, your writing assignment will be ready for you first thing each day.

©Jacki Kellum October 1, 2016

The More We Give, the More We Receive – Why Blog? – Create to Discover New Ideas & New Creations

Yesterday, in my writing class, we talked about hoarding. I am not sure how the conversation began, but it quickly evolved into a discussion of the clutter that has amassed in all of our homes. Everyone agrees that the stuff that we hoard eventually strangles us and that we need to learn to let go. Many years ago, I read a short parable about the Dead Sea and about the damaging results of its refusal to give.

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The Parable of the Two Seas

“There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh, and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters. Along its shores the children play…..

The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is there.

The River Jordan flows on south into another sea. Here is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.

What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the river Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie not the country about.

This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.

The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is named The Dead.

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are two seas in Palestine.” – Anonymous

The Bible talks about Giving:

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

Initially, when I read the above scripture, I assumed that it was simply telling us to give of our money and of our groceries to actually provide those groceries for those around us. But I believe that the hunger and  the feeding in the Bible were about more than something that goes into our mouths. I believe that the Bible also talks about the pervasive hunger of the human spirit and of the needs of the soul.

William Blake was an English poet during the Romantic age of literature. He was a Christian, but he wrote about an emotional hunger that was broader than that described by most traditional Christians. In Blake’s early poems, The Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience, he contrasted the child’s spirit with that of the adult, saying that the adult had become hardened and insensitive and that the adult was no longer spiritual. I find it interesting that the Bible also speaks about the child.

“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ ‘ Matthew 18:3

In Blake’s early poems, he was talking about more than childhood. Blake was talking about an emotional youth or spirituality.[I believe that the Bible is also talking about more than childhood]. Ultimately, William Blake described a Heaven and a Hell for people who either connect with their emotional spirituality or innocent imaginations or who choose not to connect with it. Blake said that the Imagination was the path to his Heaven, and he also wrote about a Christ-like figure Los, who was the embodiment of the Imagination. In Blake’s writing, the Imagination [Los] leads one to Heaven.

One may or may not accept that Blake’s teachings were Christian.

But Christianity is not the only religion that raises the issue of the needs of the hunger of the spirit or of the soul.

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I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists . . . .

Many of us identify with the statement: I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists.  If we substituted the words
“hungry” and “food,” we would probably also acknowledge that we are starving, too.

I am hungry for a food I am not sure even exists.

The Tao draws ideas from Buddhism, and the first of the four noble truths of Buddhism is that mankind lives in a state of yearning. The Buddhists believe that by aligning oneself with the Four Noble Truths, that yearning will cease, or at least, it will be lessened.

“Tao or Dao (/taʊ/, /daʊ/; Chinese: 道; pinyin: About this sound Dào (help·info)) is a Chinese word signifying ‘way’, ‘path’, ‘route’, or sometimes more loosely, ‘doctrine’ or ‘principle’. Within the context of traditional Chinese philosophy and religion, the Tao is the intuitive knowing of “life” that cannot be grasped full-heartedly as just a concept but is known nonetheless through actual living experience of one’s everyday being.” Wikipedia Here

[The Tao Te Ching–or the Dao–can be found in its entirety by Googling the words: Tao Te Ching. It is a beautiful writing.]

The Hindu religion talks about the soul. “Atman means ‘eternal self’. The atman refers to the real self beyond ego or false self. It is often referred to as ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ and indicates our true self or essence which underlies our existence.” From BBC Religions Here

I realize that I am over-simplifying all of these religious beliefs and schools of thought, but my main objective is to say that the Christians are not the only people who have identified a hunger and a need to be filled. I grew up as a Christian, and because I am slightly more comfortable talking about the Christain perspective, I return to the need to give, as it is discussed in the Bible. In an odd sort of way, I believe that humanity’s hunger has to do with the difficulty he has with giving:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

Again, I admit that this may be an over-simplification, but I believe that as we create, we give. Think about it: When we post to our blogs, we “share.” Creating is a way that we empty ourselves, and as we empty of ourselves, we allow space for another creation to begin.

The act of creating works like a bellows.

 

bellows-define

What Is A Bellows?

A bellows is a device that can be used to fan the flames and to build a larger fire. When the arms of a bellows are pulled apart, air is drawn into a bag. When the arms are squeezed shut, the air is rushed out, and the oxygen fans the flames. This increases the size of the fire.  Once the air has been emptied from the bag, the arms are pulled apart again, and fresh air is drawn back into the bag. When the arms are shut again, another blast of oxygen is expelled, and the flames leap higher. A bellows is sometimes called a blast bag.

Writing Is Like Using A Bellows

When we initially begin to write, our thoughts may be nothing more than a tiny flicker. Our thoughts need oxygen. We must fan our reflections to help them grow. We begin by pushing out the stale air which has been sitting inside our bags or our minds. When the whiff that was initially inside the bagblows out, the flame may flash for a second or two, but it needs more than a draft of stale, oxygenless air. Once the bag is empty, however, we can pull apart the bellows, and fresh ideas, renewed memories, and other invigorating thoughts will fill the bags of our minds. When we push that new bag of fresh air across the flickering light, the flames will begin to leap into the air. But in order to fill our bags with that vital and fresh oxygen, we must expel the insipid air that has been trapped inside.

Relate Using A Bellows and Creating to Emptying in the Teachings of Zen

The Full Teacup is a Zen story that illustrates the need for emptying. A man who was believed to be powerful and wise came to the Zen master to learn something new. Apparently, the student began by reciting to the master some of the things that he already knew. Apparently, he was trying to impress the master with the depth of his knowledge. After the Zen master listened for a moment, he said, “Let’ begin our session with a cup of tea.”

The master filled the student’s cup with tea, but he did not stop pouring. Tea flowed from the cup and ran across the floor. The student said, “Stop, the cup is full.”

The Zen master responded, “Exactly. Your mind is like the full cup of tea. I cannot teach you anything until you empty your mind and open yourself to something new.”

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 11

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

When we sit down to write, we often feel that we have nothing new to say. That is because our minds are filled with stale, lifeless thoughts. Before we can begin to discover what we want to write, we must expel what is inside ourselves and we must create an empty space within our consciousnesses.

Please return to the idea of the Dead Sea, the body of water that does not empty of itself.

The Dead Sea – “Here is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.”

“What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the river Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie not the country about.

“This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.

“The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

“The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is named The Dead.

:There are two kinds of people in the world. There are two seas in Palestine.” – Anonymous

Allow me to add to this parable. There are also two kinds of thinkers. One type of thinker explores his thoughts and shares. In doing so, he is continuously emptying his thoughts through writing, through painting, or through producing music. Fresh ideas will continually flow inside the generous thinker’s mind, and the new ideas will replace what had previously been there. The other type of thinker will not empty of himself–he will not give. The thinker who hoards will not allow what is inside his head to flow outward. Therefore, his brain  becomes parched and dried. The grass is no longer green in this thinker’s mind, and the children no longer come to play. Nothing will change until the thinker allows what is inside himself to flow out.

We Must Create to be More Creative:

When we don’t give–when we don’t create–
We allow our inner selves to stagnate;
And stagnation leads to withering,
Which ultimately results in a type of death.
When we don’t create, we become like the Dead Sea. 

I often write about my reasons for blogging. For me, there is no money in blogging. I don’t blog to increase my wealth, but I do blog for other selfish reasons. I blog to empty my mind and to be re-invigorated through that emptying. I blog to control the chaos that results from the stagnation of too much information, and I blog to be blessed with something new to say. I would not say that I am a generous person. A generous person gives for no reason at all, and I do have a reason for giving through my creativity. I create to be more creative.

©Jacki Kellum September 23, 2016

Generous

Stephen King Discusses the Problems Faced by Timid Writers – Overuse of Adverbs & Use of the Passive Voice – Just Jump In and Write

Fear is the worst thing that can happen to anyone who hopes to create.

Fear prevents the painter from painting, and he forces the writer to edit himself literally to death.

Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know: Ten Principles for Total Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment by [De Angelis, Barbara] Barbara de Angelis wrote an excellent treatise on Fear: [image credit Amazon]

“Imagine that you had a person in your life who followed you around twenty-four hours a day, filling you with anxiety, destroying your confidence, and discouraging you from doing the things that you wanted to do. Every time you were about to make a change or take a risk, the person would say, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. What if you fail? What if you get hurt? All kinds of things might happen if you go in that direction.’ Imagine that before each conversation you had with friends, family, or loved ones, the person would pull you aside and caution you. ‘If you open up, you might get rejected. Watch what you say! Don’t trust anyone! . . . ” Barbara De Angelis

Fearful writers face an abundance of problems that I have discussed before, but in his book On Writing,  Stephen King reminds us of another set of problems caused by fearful writing–the problems associated with timidity. He begins by saying that time writers make the mistake of using passive verbs:

“Verbs come in two types, active and passive. With an active verb, the subject of the sentence is doing something. With a passive verb, something is being done to the subject of the sentence. [p. 122].

. . .

“The passive voice is safe. There is no troublesome action to contend with; the subject just has to close its eyes and think of England, to paraphrase Queen Victoria. I think unsure writers also feel the passive voice somehow lends their work authority, perhaps even a majesty.

. . .

“The timid fellow writes The meeting will be held at seven o’clock….Purge this quiggling thought! Don’t be a muggle! Throw back you shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write The meeting’s at seven. There, by God! Don’t you feel better?

. . .

“You should avoid the passive tense….Suppose, for instance, a fellow dies in the kitchen but ends up somewhere else. The body was carried from the kitchen and placed on the parlor sofa is a fair way to put this, although ‘was carried’ and ‘was placed’ still irk the shit out of me…. What I would embrace is Freddy and Myra carried the body out of the kitchen and laid it on the parlor sofa. Why does the body have to be the subject of the sentence, anyway? It’s dead, for Christ’s sake! [p.123].

. . .

The writer threw the rope, not The rope was thrown by the writer. Please oh please.

. . .

“Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind. With the passive voice, the writer usually expresses fear of not being taken seriously, it is the voice of little boys wearing shoepolish mustaches and little girls clumping around in Mommy’s high heels. With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.

“Consider the sentence. He closed the door firmly. It’s by [p. 124] no means a terrible sentence…but ask yourself if firmly really has to be there.

. . .

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s–GASP!!–too late.

. . .

“Just to make sure we all know what we’re talking about, examine these three sentences:

‘Put it down! she shouted.

‘Give it back,’ he pleaded, ‘it’s mine.’ 

‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said.

“In these sentences, shouted, pleaded, and said are verbs of dialogue attribution. Now look at these dubious revisions: [p. 125]

‘Put it down! she shouted menacingly.’

‘Give it back,’ he pleaded abjectly, ‘it’s mine.’ 

‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said contemptuously.’

. . .

“Such dialogue attributions are sometimes known as ‘Swifties,’ after Tom Swift, the brave inventor-hero in a series of boys’ adventure novels… ‘Do your worst!’ Tom cried bravely and ‘My father helped with the equations,’ Tom said modestly.’

. . .

“Some writers try to evade the noo-adverb rule by shooting the attribution verb full of seroids. The result is familiar to any reader of pulp fiction or paperback originals:

‘Put down the gun, Utterson!’ Jekyll grated.

‘Never stop kissing me!’ Shayna gasped.

‘You damned tease!’ Bill jerked out.’ [p. 126]

“Don’t do these things. Please  oh please.”

. . .

“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.

.  . .

“Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather; you may feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. [p. 127

. . .

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, pgs. 122-128.

Stephen King is a prolific writer, and he is anything but timid. I do believe that his favorite word is “fart.” See my previous post that recounts his story about the babysitter Eula who was prone to farting on his head. Herehttp://jackikellum.com/?s=Stephen+King+Eula After sharing a poorly written Shayna line, King said the following: “Oh, man–who farted, right?” Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, p. 123.

When I wrote the Eula-Beulah post, I said that I personally am a bit of a prude, and I wouldn’t typically use the word “fart” in writing. I admitted, however, that King made his point, and I believe that the same is true in the advice offered above. Stephen King he tells us to do what Dumbo did. He tells us to stop quiggling and mugglilng and to Just Jump. We don’t need the magic feathers that we seem to feel naked without. We simply need to Jump.

©Jacki Kellum September 22, 2016

Jump

How to End Your Writer’s Block & Stare Down Your White Pages

You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

Do your efforts to create, end with a screeching halt? Does the empty, white page try to stare you down? Don’t allow that to happen! Stand firm and simply begin to write.

First, You Need to Prime Your Writing Pump

1. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. Start there!

Initially, you might not be able to recall any of your passions. Initially, yYou might think that life has sucked all of the passion out of you,  but you are wrong. If that were true, you wouldn’t be here, sitting in front of the computer, trying to decide what to write. You would still be vegetating in front of the television, but you are here.

You are still alive. Dig deeper.

2. Overcome Lethargy

Perhaps you feel that you are sinking in the quicksand of your own lethargy. An anecdote for that problem is to keep a canister of writing prompts handy, and when you are experiencing writer’s block, pull out one of those prompts and write about that.

The New York Times published a list of 500 great writing prompts Here.

Grab hold of one of those prompts and allow it to be your rope. Allow that to pull you out of your pit of lethargy.

WordPress Publishes A Daily WordPress Prompt Every Morning

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I begin almost every day by writing something, and my earliest morning pages are usually my response to the WordPress Daily Prompt. Read how you can also do that Here.

3. Begin with a Quote

Often, when I see the WordPress Daily Prompt, I am stumped for a moment and cannot think of anything to write. When a prompt does not motivate me, I turn to Google, and I do a Google search for quotes that might correlate with a word that I associate with the prompt. For instance, one morning’s WordPress Prompt was “Admire,” and I was not readily drawn to that topic. I performed two Google searches. One time I searched exactly the following words: “Quotes Admire.” The second time, I searched exactly the following words, “Quotes Admiration,” and after my searches, it was not long before I had written my own opinions about the prompt “Admire.” You can see what I wrote Here 

4. Write First – Title Later

I do not title anything until I finish writing the piece entirely. Titling is a Writing-Stopper. A title is like a straight jacket. If you try to title first, you limit yourself because you write trying to confine yourself to the topic of the title. Just write, let the title spring from the writing. Begin to say what you want to say and allow your writing to evolve. Then title.

5. Allow Your Intuition to Do the Heavy Lifting of Your Writing

michelangelo

Michelangelo alluded to the artist’s intuition in saying that his sculptures lay within the stone and in sculpting, he merely followed the path that he sensed within the rock. Michelangelo was talking about the process of allowing his intuition to speak to him and to coach him as he created, thus creating his art for him.

Because I am both a painter and a writer, I understand what Michelangelo was saying. When I am truly painting, something within me grabs my hand and almost literally makes my marks for me. At various times, I have written all of the following about allowing one’s intuition to create:

“Creating any type of art requires that a series of decisions be made by the artist: red here? more grass? less water?, etc. When the intuition is fully functioning, the artist is hardly even aware of the questions–the intuition handles the question and answer dialog. Before this can happen, however, the artist must first allow Intuition to get his foot into the door; and then, the artist must learn to trust the decisions that Intuition makes for him.” – Jacki Kellum

“I cannot overemphasize the importance of the intuition. Countless painters speak of an intuitive force that operates within them when they paint. Everyone is born with intuition, but socializing and educating a child have a way of squeezing the intuition out of him. Although it would be better if none of us ever lost our inner radar, intuitiveness can be reawakened.” – Jacki Kellum

In creating art, something speaks to the artist and that something should be allowed to lead the way. By listening to that something–that inner voice–one is able to distil one’s own vision. – Jacki Kellum

“Intense listening with one’s inner ear–the intuitive ear– is a vital part of sharpening one’s inner eye—and thus, of extracting a piece’s inward significance.” – Jacki Kellum

“Intuition and the Inner Artist are linked. Intuition is the instinctive way that one’s inner artist views and responds to life. When a painter allows intuition to guide him, the painter himself becomes a vessel and the art flows through the vessel.” – Jacki Kellum

Knowing why one does this or that while creating is not important–just doing is the key to becoming. Making art is an intuitive response. – Jacki Kellum

When writers can access the words that lie within themselves, they begin to write more authentically. In fact, I could return to my own words that I quoted above, and I could exchange the word “writer” for the times that I said “artist,” and I would be equally correct. When writers create from within their intuitions, they often call that writing from “The Zone,” but it is actually writing from the intuition, a reservoir of thoughts and emotions that run deeply within each person. The secret is tapping into that reservoir.

mine-memories

Beginning October 1, I am launching the Free Jacki Kellum 36-Day Writing Event that is designed to help writers recharge themselves and to begin writing intuitively again. The Entire Blog to Memoir Program has four segments which will span the next year, but the first segment is devoted to helping writers find what they are passionate about. You can read about that Event Here.

6. Don’t Worry About What Everyone Else Is Thinking about Your Writing

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Other people aren’t focusing on you or on your writing. Quite worrying about what they think of your work.  Just focus on yourself and your own goals and begin to write. Remember that you are writing to express yourself and not to express everyone else. Just talk–in plain language [Shakespearean English is out]–and say why these words are meaningful to you. People are more alike than you might think. Others will identify. Write it, they will read.

7. Write Naturally – Give Up the Idea that You Should Write Like Shakespeare

Please Don’t Thee and Thou Me
by Jacki Kellum

Please don’t Thee and Thou me.
That’s such a stuffy start.
That’s not the way to wow me,
Just say it from your heart.
©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

Jacki Kellum Rules for Writing Poetry – Rule Number 1

  1. Don’t try to use stilted, pretentious, poetry-sounding words. Just talk.

©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

Just talk–in plain language [Shakespearean English is out]–and say why these words are meaningful to you. People are more alike than you might think. Others will identify. Write it, they will read it.

8. Write first. Let it flow. Just talk. Spell later.

As you begin to write, don’t worry about spell check at first. Getting stumped by spelling is another Writing-Stopper. Write first–then spell check; then correct the spelling. It might even help to do the writing and editing in a Word Document and then paste it into WordPress. Whatever it takes, do it, but don’t let you editing strangle your writing.

9. Consider Recording Yourself Saying What You Want to Write and Then Transcribing It

If you cannot keep your self-editor in check, allow your cell phone‘s voice recorder to help you.  Just pick up your cell phone and download a voice recorder app and talk to the recorder. You can even send yourself lengthy voice messages and transcribe those. A friend of mine had a great idea for this. She said to send your message to yourself via email, and it will already be typed for you. How easy is that?

Do you see how easy it would be for you to stare down your white pages and to end your writer’s block?  Just do it!

©Jacki Kellum September 18, 2016

 

Passionate

Be Wary of Books & People Who Say that You Can Write a Book in 30 Days

I have good news and bad news. In spite of all of the hype and in spite of all of the people who are selling you books saying that you can write a book in 30 days, you really cannot. It takes a lifetime to write a book, and it takes at least several months to capture oneself for the pages of a book. I know, Amazon is selling dozens of books that swear that if you will buy this book or that, you can write a novel or a memoir or some other kind of book in 30 days, but I would have to challenge that claim. People who had already been writing the book for a great deal of time, before the 30 days began ticking away, might be able to pull something together in a month, but I really doubt that anyone can discover a new idea and write about it and edit it and sequence it within that short amount of time. Writing a book is simply more complicated than that, and that is the bad news. The good news is that I have created a more do-able plan for writing a book of memoir, and beginning October 1, you can participate in aFree Run of the Entire Course, which will require several months to complete.

memoir-poster

The First Challenge for Writing Your Memoir Is Rediscovering What It Is That Truly Makes You Tick–It Is Rediscovering What Separates You from the Herd.

blog_memoir_find_your_past_jacki_kellum

Great writing is deliberate and specific, and poor writing is generalized. One of the biggest mistakes that a writer can make is to write about things that seem to interest everyone else but that only vaguely interests himself. That is like being the person who always tries to please everyone and who continuously straddles the fence. Invariably, the fence straddlers are those people who want to please everyone and in doing so, they please no one at all.

“You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

In the current realm of Social Media, where being “liked” becomes the raison d’etre, it becomes tempting to simply chit chat when we write. In other words, it becomes tempting to use meaningless words that won’t offend anyone at all. Being liked is important to most people. It has certainly always been important for me, and at times, I have stayed in the middle of the road–striving to please everyone, but I didn’t even like myself when I was doing that.

During my teen years, I jumped through hoop after hoop, hoping to be liked. Most people do that when they are teens. Being a teenager in America is difficult, and because of social media, we are somewhat trapped into being a perpetual teen. Facebook is a prime example of that. Facebook is a place where we contine liking or disliking people by the mere clicks of our mouse. How 7th grade is that!

I want to be liked, and I dislike, as much as anyone else, for people to disagree with me. I do not even like the conflict of disagreeing with others, but I decided long ago that I would notbe a person who has no opinions. People without opinions are like piles of mashed potatoes. The life has been boiled and whipped completely out of them. People who continuously ride the fence either have not thought deeply enough to formulate an opinion, or they are living a lie–trying to hide behind the veil of seeming to have no opinion. We must have opinions. We must take a stand in life. In taking a stand, we can be differentiated from the faceless mob. The only way to be meaningful in life is to let your life mean–to let it actually stand–and to stand out.

In taking a stand, our lives can be differentiated. In taking stands in life, we do more than exist–we mean. The only way to be meaningful in life is to allow your life to mean. – Jacki Kellum

There will be people who absolutely hate us for our opinions; but in taking stands in life, we also offer other people something concrete to love. We become more than wobbling globs of jello. When writers dare to take a stand in life, they offer their readers an authentic mind. They offer them words that have meaning, and they offer their readers a vital and feeling heart that has the capacity to care. People who ride the fence do not have those things to give. They are empty; they are flat; they are zero. Risking being disliked by a few is essential to becoming more than a pile of mashed potatoes.

Herein lies the key: If you try to please all of the people all of the time, you have elected to stand for nothing yourself. To stand for something is to get off the fence–out of the middle of the road.

“Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” – Margaret Thatcher

“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”– Margaret Thatcher

For several weeks, I have been promising that I’ll be launching a Free Writing Class or Blogging Event on October 1, 2016, and I initially called that event Mine Your Memories: Find Your Voice. Because it seemed to be the trend, I suggested in the title of the event that within 36 days of participating in the course, writers would have found their voices and would have potentially written an entire book. As I began pulling the material for the course together, however, I realized that the idea that anyone can write a book in 36 days or less is hog wash.

As I said before, writing a book is complicated. The process of extracting oneself from the middle of the road and discovering what it is that you truly want to write is a complicated process, and that is only the first step. But it is the crucial first step of rediscovering what truly makes you tick and rediscovering what is unique about yourself. This is a complicated and soul-searching process. It is a time-consuming unfolding of oneself and of looking at what lurks inside. The good news, however, is that valid and authentic and deliberate writing is an excellent way to allow that unveiling to take place. Beginning on October 1, 2016, in Find Your Path, my readers and I will thrust ourselves into the process of exploring our memories and our minds to rediscover our authentic selves.

“The only way to be meaningful in life is to allow your life to mean.” – Jacki Kellum

Beginning October 1, I’ll share 36 days of writing prompts with the participants of the event, and in responding deliberately and truthfully to the prompts, the writers will begin to rediscover who they actually are, and that is the first step toward writing the books that continuously well up inside yourself, begging to be written

blog_memoir_paint_your_past_jacki_kellum

After that first part of the course, Find Your Path,  I’ll allow the participants to take a couple of months for rewriting and editing and thinking before they resubmerge themselves into the second segment, which will begin January 1, 2017. During the interim between segments of the event, however, I’ll begin to conduct a weekly event, which will offer writers one prompt or one group of prompts to polish over the course of that week. Beginning January 1, 2017, the writers will be invited back into another 36-day intensive event, Paint Your Past, where they will practice writing more descriptively.

blog_memoir_mine_your_voice_jacki_kellum

The third part of the course, Mine Your Voice, will begin April 1, and by that time, the participant should have begun expressing himself in clearly distinguishable ways. During this part of the course, the writers will be offered more writing prompts and will also be offered some exercises to help them turn their memoir writing or any other kind of writing into poetry. There is no shortcut to finding your writing voice. The only way to accomplish that is to write and to write a lot more. Trying different styles of writing and writing about a variety of things will also help, and that is the goal of Mine Your Voice.

blog_memoir_retail_your_book_jacki_kellum_900

The fourth part of the course will be the crucial step of collating our best writings and discovering how we want to be published. During this part of the course, I’ll share what I have learned about the publishing industry–including what I have learned about self-publishing. Although I’ll challenge participants throughout the course to begin from day 1 marketing themselves and building their Search Engine Optimization, during the last part of the course Retail Your Book, I’ll share some final marketing and publishing tips.

memoir-path-300 memoir-paint-300

memoir-voice-300 memoir-retail-300

Although I’d like to sell you a get-rich, get-published-instantly plan for writing and publishing your book in 30 days or less, the truth is that in doing so, I’d be feeding you a lie and I’d be riding that non-specific fence of telling you what you want to hear, primarily to sell. But in absolute honesty, I cannot do that. I wouldn’t want to read the book that you would write in 30 days or less, and I doubt that you would even want to read it yourself. To do the job correctly, I suggest that you allow yourself several months to write your book, and I suggest that you stay the course or as they say in the country, “Plow to the end of the row.” Several months may sound like a large time investment, but the best news of all is that if you start with a more realistic plan than trying to write a book in 30 days, you will allow yourself the chance to actually succeed.

©Jacki Kellum August 14, 2016

Complicated

Thoughts about Fear & How It Keeps us from Writing & Painting

Fear is the worst thing that can happen to anyone who hopes to create.

Fear prevents the painter from painting, and he forces the writer to edit himself literally to death.

Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know: Ten Principles for Total Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment by [De Angelis, Barbara] Barbara de Angelis wrote an excellent treatise on Fear: [image credit Amazon]

“Imagine that you had a person in your life who followed you around twenty-four hours a day, filling you with anxiety, destroying your confidence, and discouraging you from doing the things that you wanted to do. Every time you were about to make a change or take a risk, the person would say, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. What if you fail? What if you get hurt? All kinds of things might happen if you go in that direction.’ Imagine that before each conversation you had with friends, family, or loved ones, the person would pull you aside and caution you. ‘If you open up, you might get rejected. Watch what you say! Don’t trust anyone! . . . ” Barbara De Angelis

Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night.

“It’s your fear. Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night. It talks to you, manipulates you, and tries to convince you to avoid doing or expressing anything that may cause you any kind of discomfort or involve any sort of risk. It says, ‘You can’t’ . . . and ‘You shouldn’t.,’ and it eats away at your confidence and your self-esteem. It tells you not to act, not to reach out, not to try, not to trust, not to move. It steals the life right out from under you. . . .” Barbara De Angelis

Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness.

“Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness. How does fear do that? It keeps you stuck in what’s not working. It prevents you from growing. It keeps separation between you and other people. It talks you out of your dreams. It keeps you stagnant, frozen, unable to become all you were meant to be. . . .” Barbara De Angelis

“It is fear that keeps us standing on the cliff when we know that we need to leap to the other side. But fear does more than just hold you back–it steals your aliveness, your passion, your freedom by shutting down your heart. . . .The extent to which you allow fear to control your life is the extent to which you are living as a prisoner.

I read De Angelis’s book 25 years ago, and it is undoubtedly the most inspirational of any self-help book that I have ever read.  Although the book is supposedly for women, I feel that the passages about Fear are appropriate for most artists and writers. Fear is one of a creative’s most crippling forces.

After years of being muted by my own fear, I finally gained enough stamina to simply override my restraints and to create in spite of my fear. But that was a long and uphill climb.

 You can read excerpts from De Angelis’s book on her Facebook Page Here

You can also read a great deal of her writing at Google Books Here

The amazing thing is that you won’t see anything that you don’t already know, but sometimes it simply helps to hear a knowledgeable person give you permission to move beyond your fear and to do what you want and need to do. Sometimes it also helps to know that powerful and famous people also deal with Fear.

John_Wayne_-courage
“ Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

One of the biggest mistakes that many of us make is that of allowing ourselves to believe that only the weak and the unsuccessful people deal with Fear, but that is not at all true.  Even in her greatness, Judy Garland was never comfortable with herself and with her life.  My all-time favorite movie is the Wizard of Oz.  More times than I could count, Judy Garland has carried me Over the Rainbow and back again.  Years ago, I did an entire body of art work based on the theme: “Over the Rainbow.”  For me, “Over the Rainbow “is a kind of heaven–a heaven that Judy Garland unlocked for me and for many, many other people.  In many ways, The Wizard of Oz and the song Over the Rainbow  molded the course of my life; yet, Judy Garland never felt that she was enough. Imagine that! Judy Garland battled her fear and yet, managed to serve as a great inspiration for me.and for many other people.

From what I have read, Barabara Streisand is similarly haunted. Long ago, when she was at her peak, I heard Streisand talk about how difficult performing was for her–and she hardly ever performs now.

Loud and clear, the messages that I hear are that most of us are not the best judges of ourselves and that we never feel that we are great enough–at least not great enough to please ourselves. Yet, even in our weaknesses [this is the BIGGIE], we have MUCH to offer.

Allow your cups to be filled by two women who were often scared to death and yet who “…saddled up anyway.”

“Even in our weaknesses, we have MUCH to offer.” – Jacki Kellum

We must all realize that when we don’t share of ourselves, we fail to give other people the gifts of our own lives. We also steal from our very own lives the joy that we deserve.

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

Is Fear preventing you from truly living your life–from becoming your true self? Eileen R. Hannegan also talks about the paralyzing effects of fear that drain our energies and damages our spirits:

“The combination of discovering what is not you but not yet knowing what is you is very much like being cast adrift in space, free-floating with no sense of attachment to anything solid. In this transitional process, it is easy to become disconcerted and frustrated. What you previously knew as your self begins to fade away, and a new set of knowns based on true self begins to emerge. As the old passes away, familiar habits and thought processes also begin to wither and die, but new ones have not yet replaced them. Because of . . . paralyzing fear, many people choose to continue living a false existence. They are generally very adept at doing this, and living a false existence works for them to some degree because they manage to stay in a neutral zone, half alive and resisting the life force of true self. a considerable amount of energy to hold back and maintain a neutral course of life. But living a false or a half-truth existence eventually takes its toll, both emotionally and physically. It takes a considerable amount of energy to hold back and maintain a neutral course of life. It goes against true self and drains the soul and spirit. We think that if we keep sacrificing self long enough, things will get better. So we invest in situations that go against true self, and as a result, we deplete the soul. Our energy is being drained to maintain this facade and keep up the pretense of well-being.”

Regardless of how great of a hold that Fear has on us, we can overcome it and we can create, in spite of it. We owe it to ourselves to limit the damage that fear imposes upon us. You may not realize it, but when you do not write or paint or dance or sing, in spite of your fear, you not only cheat yourself. You cheat the world.

©Jacki Kellum August 13, 2016

© 2017 Jacki Kellum

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