Shelley Klammer : The Art of Writing a Book
The Art of Writing a Book
Reviewing Naomi Rose's Starting Your Book: A Guide to Navigating the Blank Page by Attending to What's Inside You*
By Shelley Klammer
I have met a kindred spirit right here on Creativity Portal. She is Writing from the Deeper Self coach Naomi Rose. She has become my book developer and I want to share with you what I have learned from our co-creative relationship. Since I have often taken a teaching role, I have been reluctant to ask for help. It is sometimes a lonely place to be. I have always been a fiercely independent creator, determined to figure everything out myself. Recently, however, I decided to ask for the support to write a book. I simply did not know how to begin.
I have always loved books with a passion, and have secretly wondered if I could ever write one. As a child, books lifted me out of my quiet suburban existence into new creative possibilities and realities. While everyone else in my family was crowding around the television set in the family room, I read book after book in our quiet, pristine living room. I roamed the world, traveled through time, and engaged in the adventures and lives of my characters. Reading other people's words provided me with solace and inspiration. Books imbued me with a sense of deep connection to inner worlds, feelings and experiences beyond my own. I can honestly say that in my younger years, books were my best friends.
As a teenager, I began to hunt through bookstores, hungry for the secrets of self-expression. I wanted to say something true and unique about myself, but I did not know how to find the words. I began instead to express myself non-verbally through paintings, drawings and collages. A few years ago however, the urge to express myself verbally began to emerge again. I began a creativity weblog to figure out how to eloquently express the essence of what I was creating. My first posts took hours to write as I struggled to find my authentic writing voice.
Three hundred blog essays later, the idea of writing a whole book about my creative process began to nudge its way into my awareness. When I discovered Naomi Rose's writing voice on Creativity Portal, I instantly felt a deep love for her honest and revealing way of writing, and her connection to the sacred in the creative process. I was stumbling in my commitment to begin a book about how to re-discover the authentic self through the art of collage. It was Naomi's believing voice and heart that got me started.
I was doubtful that I could begin and finish writing a book. I lead a busy life. I am studying to be an art therapist, I work full time, and I teach collage classes in the evenings and weekends. Naomi encouraged me during our first phone meeting that I could indeed write a book in small, consistent bits. I was eager to find out how to deepen into the process of book writing, so I ordered her book, "Starting Your Book: A Guide to Navigating the Blank Page by Attending to What's Inside You." Naomi writes in such a tender and encouraging way. After reading a few pages, I became enamored with the process of committing to writing my own book.
Naomi has a true gift for "loving books into being" and I began to thrive on her encouragement. I started to get up a little earlier each day to read a few uplifting words from "Starting Your Book" before beginning my writing session. It is difficult to explain the feeling you have when you read something true. It feels like love, or gratitude, or a connection to something larger. This is how I feel when I read Naomi's writing. The deeper place that her words emerge from serve to invite and induct me into a more heart-full and connected place within my own writing.
Her book has been a source of solace and a reminder that I do have something true to say. We all do. I have often doubted my own inner experience and invalidated myself as a writer because I have no formal degrees or fancy credentials. I realized, through this deep process of book writing, that I could never fully know what is inside of me until I began to express it. I am surprised at what has been emerging. Thoughts that I have never before committed to writing emerge with a voice that is uniquely my own.
Writing from my deeper self seems to inform and organize my priorities. Invariably, I awake an hour earlier and approach my writing as a form of meditation. I only have time to write for about an hour on most weekdays. Some days I just re-read my work and make small revisions. Each day, however, I clarify my experiences and understandings though my writing a little more, and I am growing into what I stand for. I am learning how to offer the best of myself to life.
The time that I spend on my book in the morning follows me through my day, and I am blessed with answers to my deeper questions. Even though I only work an hour at the very most in a day on the book, I have begun to deepen around what is emerging. I have discovered, for example, that if I maintain a deeper level of inner silence through my workday, insights flow, and my writing voice is more distilled. This encourages me, and I begin to trust what is moving through me even more. New knowing percolates, and enlarges me. I ask myself often, "Am I creating this book or is it creating me?"
Since I started writing this book many months ago, I have had periods of overwhelm and fear. Voices crop up to taunt me. "Who are you to write a book? You will never finish! You are wasting your time! What is the point?" When I feel discouraged, I turn to the section of the book on fear and Naomi invites me to "Transform fear into bright willingness." To be brightly willing to take action on what is true within is the most beautiful of notions. This bright willingness is intensifying within me, gently prodding me to continue, to be patient, and to trust. It is an enlivening and hopeful feeling. Writing a book is helping me to love my own life.
Naomi's book is precious to me, and I revisit it often. "Starting Your Book" has shown me ways of taking my writing to a deeper place, from someone who knows these deeper places intimately. My favorite part of the book is how she describes her own very process of writing "Starting Your Book." This offered me an inside look at how her book evolved. I felt a kinship to her very human process of stumbling at the beginning of the creative process, and then gaining momentum.
I was touched that Naomi cared enough to share her own inner critic's voice. This, more than anything, inspired me to begin, and continue. I was encouraged to learn that she does not start with an outline when she writes her books. This gave me permission to relax and follow my intuition. Naomi aptly illustrates the "chaos before the order" in the process of book writing. My ideas, after a time, also seemed to find their own place and purpose. The chapters and a structure began to form all on their own.
A few weeks ago, I received my first chapters back from Naomi. They were covered with her careful editing marks and suggestions and I was overwhelmed with excitement. I carried my precious envelope with me all day, taking time out of my workday to peek at it with anticipation. I felt rich and overflowing. I realized with a strange suddenness that I am the author of my own life! With such a connection to the deep art of writing a book, I am creating myself!
It is just as Naomi says: "Someday, reading what you wrote, your eyes will fill with grateful tears. 'Did I write that?' you'll ask yourself, and sigh yourself back into realization." Beyond my hopes to eventually get published, the process of distilling my understandings into book form is a profoundly enlarging process unto itself. •
Read two excerpts from Starting Your Book:
* Naomi Rose, the author of Starting Your Book,+ is a Book Developer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bringing a healing orientation to her extensive experience in the publications field, she helps writers (including first-time book writers) nurture their books into being, convinced that books written from the deeper Self can heal the writer, the reader, and the world.
© Shelley Klammer, 2007.
Shelley Klammer is a Registered Professional Counselor and an Expressive Art Facilitator. More »