This should be easy, right? If we writers write what we know — and who and what do we know more intimately than ourselves and our own lives? — then writing one’s own truth ought to be the easiest subject matter one could choose. No research required.
In practise it can be quite challenging. We have to beware the slippery slope of navel gazing.
But it can also be incredibly rewarding. Considering our innermost thoughts and feelings on subjects close to our heart has the potential not only to clarify our perspective, but also to breathe life into our writing.
Moving forward I intend to do more of this kind of writing. Here. On this blog. A decision prompted by an inner drive to frankness — one that I’ve thus far largely contained — combined with the very real nature of that which Sean and I are about to embark upon.
Next week we’re leaving Burgos, heading back to the UK via the Dordogne in France, where Sean is leading a 2-day writing workshop at a lovely gîte just outside of Eymet, a small bastide town that boasts a one-third English-speaking population. As soon as we arrive in England we launch straight into our Spring/Summer 2013 British Isles Writing Workshop Tour, with workshops in various locations throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. And all the while we’ll be CouchSurfing. Something which entails unpacking and repacking self-inflating mats and sleeping bags every few days or so, as we, tirelessly or exhaustively, move from one location to another.
The upside, of course, will be visiting new places and getting to know a host of new people, both workshop participants and the many generous CouchSurfing hosts we’ve yet to meet.
The workshop title — Write from the Heart: Writing the Truth of One’s Own Experience — has been a reminder and a catalyst. I know the truth of writing my truth, and the candid impulse within has risen sufficiently high such that it takes less effort to exercise. Which, of course, leaves it perfectly situated to respond to the catalytic spark that radiates from the aforementioned title.
The next few months will be a whirlwind of busy-ness, leaving less time for the business of writing. Which means my fiction writing is likely to be put on hold for the duration of our tour. As a writer who feels she’s recently found her writing groove this was initially quite disconcerting. On the other hand, this very busy-ness — a time filled with new experiences and unique challenges — is bound to be good fodder for writing.
No research required.
I took the above photograph in Burgos, an important stop on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James), due to its many historic Christian sites, including notable churches and monasteries, such as Las Huelgas and Cartuja de Miraflores, as well as the Gothic Cathedral. During their pilgrimage, most peregrinos choose to stay at albergues, pilgrim shelters or refuges.
Given our imminent whistle-stop writing workshop tour, I figured this photograph of the Albergue de Peregrinos signpost was a fitting image for this post, as Sean and I about to embark upon an even more nomadic existence than that which the past twelve months of slow travel has entailed.
Mufidah Kassalias is a writer, photographer and slow traveller. A digital nomad, she’s also co-founder of Creative Thunder, helping creative individuals and small businesses to fire up their online presence and prowess. To get a free copy of the inspiring Creative Thunder Manifesto, click here.