with The Shrieking Violets, my book club

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Elizabeth's book

 
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Lost and Found at the poetry readings

I'm getting my value from the South Coast writers' centre! On Saturday I went to the launch of Ron Pretty's poetry volume 'Postcards from the Edge'. It was wonderful to sit back and let those beautiful words wash over. Ron lives in the Illawarra and was the former Head of writing in Creative Arts at the Uni of Wollongong. He has a whole bunch of credentials and prizes. I loved his poems set on beaches and the one called Dog Days, (to mention a few). I'll try and find the beautiful cover and post it as well.
Then today to celebrate Science Made Marvellous as part of National Poetry Week, they had a poetry reading at the Uni. Christine Paice is the poet invited to write a dedication to the Janet Cosh herbarium. She has a great sense of humour and gave a lively reading. I met a few other SCWC members, including Elizabeth Hodgson, (winner of the David Unaipon award for her novel Skin Painting) who admired my pashmina. That started the scarf story. I told her I had lost my autumnal scarf somewhere and had tried in vain to find it at all the lost property offices I could think of - Cityrail, library, Uni. Regretfully I had bought another (the one she admired) though I hadn't lost hope that I would one day still find the favourite. She said - well - could I have lost it at Uni, as she had found an autmumn coloured pashmina in the car park. We swapped contact details and she said she would drop by at work to see if it was mine! I said if it was I would buy her a pashmina exactly like mine as I had spotted one the other day in Thirroul.
Karma - I just have this feeling that I will see my autumnal coloured pashmina again! Poetry connects...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Questions about the psychology of writing

Well, I’m not sure that doing a PhD is really my cup of tea, only because I think I am too much of an extrovert to be cooped up in front of a computer for long periods of time, much as I enjoy writing and reading, I also have to get out and move around...actually that reminds me, my Myers-Briggs profile is surprisingly, INFJ – I’m actually introverted! The ‘I’ is the teetering-on-the-brink part of the profile. Yes I do like having time to think about topics – but not too much, as this latest stint at home has shown! I think about 3 days a week of work and 2 days writing, reading and thinking would be about right, oh and, of course, having coffee, going to the fresh food market and leaving a space at the end of the week to suddenly jet off home if the mood takes me.
ANYWAY. The point about this blog was to put some questions together, that relate to possible topics for further study, let’s say, whether just ‘further’ in my spare time, or whether I formally do something about it (as in further research) remains to be seen. There is so much interesting stuff out there; I have a whole pile of books to try and get through. But to make a start, I’ll put down my stream of consciousness questions about the psychology of writing, and then at least they will be recorded. So here goes, in no particular order:
“Writing is therapeutic” – yes, but under what conditions, for what kind of person, what kind of writing, what kind of process? How does the writing process help? Why is narrative so important? Is the satisfaction of a resolution important to the writer as well as the reader? Is writing in the first person more ‘dangerous’ than writing in the third person – since we know poets have higher incidences of mental health disorders and a higher rate of suicidality than narrative fiction writers, who more often write in the third person. How do writing and reading differ in terms of therapeutic benefit? Why do writers have elevated levels of depression and mood disorders? Do writers actually look after themselves? What kind of psychological or mental health profile do successful writers have? Are more successful writers immune to the vulnerabilities experienced by less successful writers? (Fear of failure, writer’s block, rejection). How important are turning points in a writer’s life? We know many famous writers have suffered from bipolar disorder – which comes first – the self-expression or the disorder? In what ways is writing similar to counselling or coaching? Both involve telling a story and making coherent sense of the various elements of experience. How does fiction writing differ from non-fiction and memoir, then? Is it safer to hide behind fiction and not get too close to painful experiences and emotions, as one does in memoir? How is writing related to motivational processes? In what ways is writing descriptively similar to mindfulness? Both seek to focus on the sensual aspects of an experience, and good writing draws you in to an experience as if you are living it ‘now’. How is writing - when it is going well – a creative process – how do ideas get triggered from other ideas, how does the writer free him or herself to deviate from ‘the plan’ and start generating ideas? Do negative emotions spark greater creativity? How does writing fit into a positive psychology paradigm? Does writing confer positive subjective experiences like discovering ‘flow’ and self-fulfilment, or is it simply finding those individual strengths and talents?
Phew. That will do for today.