Advice to Writers

Copyright Pamela Stopfer Used with permission

I received some very salient wisdom from a writer I admire, Thomas Merton.

He was asked for some advice by a new writer and here is the encouragement he dispensed:

1. Never write down to anyone.

2. Never write what you think others want to hear.

3. Write what is deepest in your own heart and what you know is also deep in theirs.

My paraphrase of this:

1. Be humble.

2. Don’t pander and be courageous.

3. Be genuine and speak of true things.

I hope my writing will due homage to this sapient advice.  If I ever venture off this path I hope that you, the reader, will remind me of this wisdom.

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Changes

Change is inevitable they say.  It has also been said that everything changes.

But we humans (despite our zombie-like attraction to the latest and the greatest gizmo, fashion or fad) tend to dislike change or at least too much of it.  Perhaps that is why we gravitate to the familiar surroundings of home.  Although we love to go on vacations there is a sense of relief when we walk in the front door of our cottage. There must be some truth in it – after all, Frank Sinatra sings that “It’s oh so nice to come home.”

Maybe I have generalized  things a bit here but speaking for myself change can be terrifying!  It sometimes requires me to step off the ledge and pray that the net will be there!  It requires me to leave the land that I know so well and venture off into the fog of the unknown.  And once I get to this new place I must reconcile myself to the fact that, as Thomas Merton said, I can no longer live here as I lived there.

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Copyright Pamela Stopfer Used with permission

Same can be said about my adventures in writing.  It’s something I enjoy but never really tried with any seriousness or sense of purpose.  But changes in my life have created the opportunity to spread my writing wings and leave the nest.  I hope that it will be a satisfying and soul-nourishing undertaking.

I have been on a Thomas Merton kick lately.  Here’s something he wrote that really resonated with me and gives me courage to take the next step on the journey.  He wrote that “there is one basic idea that should be kept in mind in all changes we make in life, whether of career or anything else.  We should decide [to change] in view of becoming more real, entering more authentically into direct contact with life, living more as a free and mature human person, able to give myself more to others, able to understand myself and the world better.”

I hope that I can embrace the coming changes in me and trust that the path will lead me to wholeness and wellness; I trust that these changes will make me a better man today than I was yesterday.