The Writers' Loop

For Readers and Writers

A Blank Page

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By Peggy Morehouse Strack

I thought I would blog more frequently while at my writing workshop at The Omega Institute with Cheryl Strayed. I could give you the expected answer as to why I didn’t. That I just didn’t have the time. That I was so busy crafting the great American novel and mingling with interesting people that blogging fell by the wayside. But that wouldn’t be true, although I did write and I did meet some pretty amazing people.

The reason I didn’t blog very much was because so much provocative information was being delivered that I needed to process it before writing about it.

Topics like objects and talismans, revelation, and interiority in our stories were addressed. There were questions like: “What is the universal question at the core of your work?” and “Is there another experience you’ve had that collides with this story?”

Yes. I did spend quite a bit of time pondering while at Omega, and will think about what I learned now that I’m home.

As far as blogging about the workshop goes, I’ll continue to focus on reluctance as part of the writing process. Anyone who has ever written or thought about writing knows what that means. When you’re face to face with a blank page, wanting to begin, but so unsure of how to start. Frightened that the right words won’t come, that what it so clear in your head will be an incoherent mess on the page, that emotions will seep out that you hoped would stay contained.

It’s the same reluctant feeling that we have when we stand alone on a trailhead before we enter the forest, when we stop on the shoreline before diving into the ocean, when we hesitate before saying “I love you” for the first time. Scary stuff lives in those places. Things like  bears and sharks and  rejection. Yet a stronger force calls us forward–a desire to explore, to feel, to live. Fear remains, but we move beyond it. Turning back would be like slapping our own spirit in the face. So we step into the woods, the ocean, love. We write that first word and allow our story to begin.

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“If your Nerve, deny you –Go above your Nerve –”

Emily Dickenson (and Cheryl Strayed) 

 

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Reese Witherspoon playing Cheryl Strayed stepping onto the Pacific Crest Trail in the movie “Wild” (to be released in December, 2014)

A Little Something Extra:

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If you ever have the opportunity to study writing with Cheryl Strayed, I strongly recommend it. By far, the best writing workshop I ever attended.

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