The Time & Place of a Writer

Entering the Stream

The Courageous Writer


Time is but the stream I go fishing in...

–Henry David Thoreau, Walden

     Writing well requires a writer to write with courage, confidence and honesty. Your journal is your place to live fully within yourself as a real and committed writer who practices these ideals. Journal writing is simply a way to give form and substance to your inner thoughts. It is simply a way for you to be completely you—not an expectation driven by academic expectations directed and choreographed by me.

It is you. It is you. It is you—in all of your glory and imperfections made real and palpable just by trying. Every trip to a blank page is an opportunity to discover, explore and investigate your own particular bent of genius. No one is peering over your shoulder as long as you are peering into yourself and extricating the stubborn stones from the mud of your inimitable life out of the experiences, musings, pondering's and proclamations that are uniquely your own.

Writing is not merely an academic exercise. It is a physical activity made better simply by doing, practicing and embracing the beast in a continual and sustained way. Writing is made better by learning and using the time-tested skills of craft in the same way you use the time-tested skills learning and mastering a sport or a game or a passion. To get better, just do it. Do it with equal doses of bravado and humility. Do it because it will make you a more literate and capable human being. Do it because you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

All of you have just returned from a common and shared experience. You have spent the last three days side by each mashed in small cabins, clumped in groups, tethered to swaying wires, circled around campfires, eating the same foods—living in a way to help you see, smell, embrace, discover, reflect and rethink this special and irretrievable space of time in your life.

It is worth remembering!

The beauty is that each of your experiences, common and threaded by a sameness, is utterly and perfectly your own experience. No one can tell you what you have gained, lost or discovered. That is the work of you as a writer—a flesh and bones teenager skateboarding on the edge of a distinct, dangerous and exhilarating time in your life. Before you tell us your story, first tell yourself your story. Only then can you begin the process of telling a real, true and compelling story to others—a story that will richen the mosaic of life and stand as a testament that will long outlive you.

Over the weekend, make the time to open your journal. Let the words and thoughts flow like a New Hampshire stream. Let them pool in swirling eddies and still ponds of thought. Let them just be what they are and go where they will go. Words have a way of bending around boulders, snags and even mountains, and no dam can ever hold back the power and persistence of unfettered thought.

In the cool gray fog of this morning I wrote my thoughts. Now it is up to you to find your own space and your own time to do the same.

You are welcome to share your journal entry with me, but I will be just as happy if you write a brief reflection about your experience writing your entry.

Thanks, and have a good weekend.