A stack of magazines waited patiently for their turn to be read. Most still had their protective covers attached. Many times I lifted them to toss out, but hesitated.
How could I throw out publications I hadn’t even glanced through?
Somehow I felt the day would come when I’d have a few minutes to just kill time. Then, surely then, I would open them and peruse the pages between the covers still glossy from being safely secured without danger of dust.
**If you have read my post at writingfeemail, you know about my recent knee injury. If not, hit the link if you are curious about why I suddenly had that time.**
My office is upstairs and I wasn’t about to try to maneuver the steps on crutches. And my laptop wouldn’t sit straight across the leg stabilizer. I finished the ‘must read’ books on my kindle and then started digging through the magazines which had been piling up for about six months.
I ripped interesting articles from their spines as if tearing out hair by their roots. Some gave easily, while others resisted, wrinkling up like a pleated skirt.
Three recipes later – as well as an agent looking for new clients, and a recommended tour route from Charleston, South Carolina to Murrels Inlet – I felt successful in my search for buried treasures among the offending pile.
But it was the July 2013 “O” – The Oprah Magazine, that had me thinking about my blog. In it was an interview with Natalie Goldberg; author, speaker, and teacher.
You might recognize her name in connection with her retreats in New Mexico, or her 1986 book; Writing Down The Bones; as it sold more than a million copies.
In this article she was introducing her new book, a follow-up to the previous one, titled The True Secret of Writing, and sharing a few of her tips to tease out the writer within. There were six, but it was number five that spoke loudly to me.
She said, “Behind writing, behind words, is no words. We need to know about that place. It gives us a larger perspective from which to handle language. Silence can be the door to listening, which is one of the great cornerstones to writing.”
It felt as if she was in the room with me, speaking only to me. I had been silent on my blog since my mother’s death, as if adding one more sentence would somehow indicate I was through mourning and all was normal again.
The title of the last post I had published was “No Words...”
There was a symmetry to these two articles – hers and mine. It went beyond coincidence.
J.K. Rowling often talks about her mother and wishing she could have lived to witness her success as a writer. But then she inevitable adds it was her mother’s death that gave her the depth of emotional empathy to write so convincingly about Harry Potter’s grief over losing his parents and the scenes with the ‘deatheaters’ which she describes achingly as the cloud of depression.
The saying: “Nothing is ever lost on a writer,” is attributed to Donald Sinclair, though we have all heard that phrase repeated many times with many authors. We store even the smallest of tidbits away in the locked vault of our souls which we will mine time and again for just the right emotion we are trying to communicate through our words.
I suppose the time will come when I’ll give a voice to the grief in my heart. For now, I’ll stick with Natalie Goldberg’s advice and just crack the door open a wee bit, listen beyond the wall.
For the full article from Natalie Goldberg which appeared in Oprah’s magazine, click here.
Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray. She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food. She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.