100 Words – Listen to Everything
My dear word-nerdlings, I hope you had a lovely holiday. We had a mellow gathering here at the Velvet Verbosity household. Just me and the kids. Mr. Verbosity was away at a family gathering I didn’t feel like going to, and my extended family were far away this year, so I seized the opportunity to spend some quiet, no-pressure time with my babies.
What a gift.
In other news, I’m adjusting to my new work with a small start-up company. It’s intense work, building something from the ground up, wondering and hoping if it will take flight and working every moment as though that’s a given. This also means no more work-at-home-in-my-pjs. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to commute to an office. I missed my car dates with NPR.
All of this has nothing to do with this week’s prompt. Just getting my head around the shifts in my life in the best way a blogger knows how.
Yesterday I picked up Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg again, because it’s just that kind of book. The kind you leave lying around on purpose because when you have just a minute or two you can open it to any page and get something useful. I opened to, Listening:
Writing, too, is ninety percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you. If you can capture that reality around you, your writing needs nothing else. You don’t only listen to the person speaking to you across the table, but simultaneously listen to the air, the chair, and the door. And go beyond the door. Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming in through the windows. Listen to the past, future, and present right where you are. Listen with your whole body, not only with your ears, but with your hands, your face, and the back of your neck.
Listening is receptivity. The deeper you can listen, the better you can write. You take in the way things are without judgment, and the next day you can write the truth about the way things are. Jack Kerouac in his list of prose essentials said, “Be submissive to everything. Open. Listening.” He also said, “No time for poetry, but exactly what is.” If you can capture the way things are, that’s all the poetry you’ll ever need.
Basically, if you want to become a good writer, you need to do three things. Read a lot, listen well and deeply, and write a lot. And don’t think too much. Just enter the heat of words and sounds and colored sensations and keep your pen moving across the page.
If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you. Maybe it’s not quite that easy, but if you want to learn something, go to the source. Basho, the great seventeenth century Haiku master, said, “If you want to know about a tree, to to the tree.” If you want to know poetry, read it, listen to it. Let those patterns and forms be imprinted in you. Don’t step away from poetry to analyze a poem with your logical mind. Enter poetry with your whole body. Dogen, a great Zen master, said, “If you walk in the mist, you get wet.” So just listen, read, and write. Little by little, you will come closer to what you need to say and express it through your voice.
So your word this week is:
You can choose to just use the word, or you could do a free write based on the instructions from Goldberg on listening. Up to you!