Archive for the ‘Writing’ category

Writing is a Process of Discovery

6 January 2010

I just watched a 90 minute PBS program: “American Master – Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio In Red Shoes”.  I really enjoy listening to his “The News from Lake Wobegon” podcasts.  I appreciate his unique sense of  humor and his down to earth way of looking at life.  He is such a fabulous story teller.  He does not talk down to others as he tells his tales.  More importantly, he does not put other people down as he tells his stories.  He meets his listeners on their level.  I find him not only entertaining, but also very refreshing.

Perhaps a good part of why I enjoy his stories is that it seems like he comes from “my people”.  No I’m not from Minnesota and he’s not from Illinois.  But we both come from good Lutheran traditions.  There’s lots of Germans, Norwegians and Swedes in our history.  We both have fond childhood memories of church potlucks, large family gatherings and growing up in public schools with unique personalities all around you.  We both love the fact that when you sing in a Lutheran church, there will be people singing all four voice parts and that’s Okay.  One of my favoirite parts of this program was when he was wondering around the Minnesota State Fair and talking to people about one of his favorite rites of spring, Rhubarb pie.

I think the part that I most appreciated tonight was his love of writing.  He was an English Major in college and I believe he even got a Masters Degree in English.  He mentioned one of his early jobs in radio where he would play music like big long symphonies. Then he could write while the music played and just have to turn on his microphone to tell the listeners what it was they had just heard or were about to hear.  He enjoyed that in part because of the time it gave him for writing.

I have aspirations of doing more writing. I have a variety of blogs that I keep.  Most are not updated often, but I do enjoy writing when I make time to do so.  I want to make more time for writing.  It takes a different kind of thinking than what I do all day where I work.  Oh, there is some creative thought that goes into the problem solving, programming and customer support things I do at my job.  But writing requires that I try to let my creative side out for more of  a long walk rather than just a quick trip to the mailbox.

So what drove me to write this long note.  It was a part of this program where Mr Keillor was talking to a group of students about writing that piqued my interest. Part of what he said was:

“You start with what you know.  But writing is a process of discovery.  It is not as if we are taking a (photo) plate out of our head and laying it down on paper and printing from it.  We’re not. Writing is an act of discovery.  And the moment you start, with a character or maybe with yourself,  and you learn about that character by writing about that character and you wind up in places that you never thought you were going to go.  That’s the whole reason for writing, is for discovery. You do not know what you yourself think, until you put it into words.”

It seems like many of the things in my life are changing.  The kids are out of the house, one in an apartment and one in a college dorm.  My wife and I are reconnecting as we learn to live in an empty nest.  My position at work changed significantly last year.  And I’m dealing with a few new health challenges.  And on the plus side there are 30 pounds less of me than there were 6 months ago.  This is a time of adjustment and discovery for me.  I look forward to seeing what writing can help me discover.


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