Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creative Listening

I took a writing workshop from Kim Stafford last November and just got around to reading his book. The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft (U. Georgia Press). Why did I wait so long? This book is just what I needed to give my gravitational pull to writing a context.

Listening is central to Kim's approach to writing. He uses the soundtrack of life as his inspiration, recording fragments that interest him. He then goes through these fragments and finds bits that interest him more than others, and then he writes a bit more about that, and then pulls out a nugget and writes a letter...this whole process resonated with me. Even though I don't often overhear conversations, I still sometimes notice things and this pull to looking outside feels healthy and invigorating.

About five years ago, when I was planning a big change in my life, a close friend encouraged me to carry a little notebook with me so I could jot down ideas as I went about my life. (I have to admit I like the moleskin type because it is just the right size and inconspicuous). In the last couple of years I've still carried the notebook but have gotten out of the habit of writing things down. Reading Kim's book was just the impetus I needed to get me going again. For me, since I can't rely just on listening to take in the world, it will have to be eloquent awareness - using all my senses together to take in the unusual and interesting bits of life that enriches and informs experience.

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