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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...

Writing Like a Lion
by Tama Westman

March is famous for the phrase "in like a lamb, out like a lion." I like to think of my writing in a similar way. I start quietly enough: open laptop, lightly touch the keypad and string a few sensible words together.

I have watched my cousin, a plein air painter, begin his canvasses in much the same manner. A few gentle strokes of the paintbrush, nothing that has much shape or definition, only wisps and whirls of paint. The critical eye could find no landscape in what he initially puts down.

But there is something about the creative process that takes the ordinary words, the intangible paint with which we create, charges it with a surge of energy, to allow something extraordinary to emerge. Our initial words, sentences and paragraphs may yield little. But, like a masterpiece painting, once we get into the heart of our work, suddenly it takes on a life of its own and reshapes itself into what will be truly a work of art.

Let go
Remember, a work in progress does not have to be perfect. My cousin was painting this lovely scene by the stream, when suddenly his elbow dragged across the canvas as he turned, and immediately the group of cattails was destroyed. I cried out in alarm, sure he would be upset. But he just laughed and in response took a bit of blue and painted a smiley face in the clouds.

"I don't worry about little accidents like these. To me they are just serendipitous occurrences along the way. They give a hidden depth to the painting." As the creator, he is the only one who knows the cattails were ever destroyed or that a smiley face lurks beneath the clouds. The final landscape will reveal none of its secrets.

No lyin'
Likewise, when I write, there are times when I'm stuck, when I just start typing...I'm stuck, I can't write, I am hopeless, what was I thinking, no one is ever going to read this...(a real positive sort, aren't I?) But can you relate? After a minute or two of foolishness, all of a sudden my brain will kick back into functioning and I will be inspired to write something other than drivel.

Hitting the delete button, I pick up where I left off. No one will ever know that I had my moment of despair. The final work will not reveal its secrets. However, by sticking to my guns, and not allowing my own discouragement to become a stumbling block, I can usually complete a project on time and to the editor's satisfaction.

Let loose the lion
This month I encourage you to take on the lamb and lion mantra. Begin your writing reflectively, quietly, without a critical eye that would destroy what you are creating. Continue writing until the work takes hold of you and becomes infused with your passion on the page. Let the lion in you roar as your pen flies across the page, or the words simply stream on your monitor.

The end result is likely to be an article or story you will be quite proud of. Awe-inspiring work is inside you, waiting to be released. Let loose the lion in your writing life today.

Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. As a correspondent and columnist, she publishes news articles, feature stories and her column, Cuppa Thoughts, regularly with her local paper, the Chaska Herald. She has served as the editor of the award-winning literary magazine, Haute Dish. Her articles appear in several local newspapers and, nationally in The Gathering and Light & Life Magazine.

She teaches creative writing and poetry classes with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, mentors high school journalism students, and teaches beginning and intermediate writers at conferences throughout the country. Married with two grown children, she keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the afternoon in her English garden. Further samples of her writing can be viewed on her Web site, http://www.tamawestman.com feel free to e-mail comments to tama@tamawestman.com









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