cojournal, essays, space

On writing

THE FIRST FEW TIMES I WAS THINKING, ‘I want to write,’ I guess I was still a kid. I had this notion that you could do it, you could do anything, if you just wanted to enough. Not knowing that there would be a whole lot of people trying to tell you, no, no no, that’s not what you do with your life. When you write, it’s your hobby. When you work, you know, you make money. That’s how it is. Writing is a dream for some people who are idle and rich. Focus. On the tasks at hand. Which are practical, which have everything to do with making it happen, for the things that make sense, because they have to, otherwise… well. Otherwise there would have been no point in existing the way I have chosen to exist… I imagine I hear these things—and I’ll come back to that—I’d imagine, and in this imagining, I’d verbalize it.

I’d state it, like was a fact.

To anyone who’d listen, I’d say, ‘You can hear these things in people’s heads,’ you insist, covering up for yourself on the why question, the why you’re not writing for real, the stuff you want, and you are working at a newspaper because it feels… like the right thing to do, instead. You intellectualize and come up with reasons not to put words together the way you want, the way that some of the most intriguing people, in foreign lands and closeby, will say really inspire them.

Then you will know, but only then that it doesn’t matter about practicals. Until then you are insisting. Saying you have to write for the papers, the magazines, put the freelance-y bits together so… you can… get more work like that. ‘You really, really can hear everyone telling you how it should go. They are there in the everywhere… ‘ Except the day you stop and see. That they are not at all in the everywhere. On that particular eve or morn, you see, at once and forever from that point forward, that they are ringing about, all right, but only in your head.

Accepting the new directions. They are making their own case to exist. —KM

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cojournal, the forum

Link: ‘Talk therapy’

FOUND in The Atlantic, this bit about self narrative.

Ahead of our eCourse SELF, I thought it would be fun to share a few finds like this.

Here it is:

But just as there are consequences to telling, there are consequences to not telling. If someone is afraid of how people might react to a story, and they keep it to themselves, they’ll likely miss out on the enrichment that comes with a back-and-forth conversation. A listener “may give you other things to think about, or may acknowledge that this thing you thought was really bad is actually not a big deal, so you get this richer and more elaborated memory,” [Developmental psychology professor] Monisha Pasupathi says. If you don’t tell, “your memory for that event may be less flexible and give you less chance for growth.” This is basically the premise of talk therapy. Read the full story here >

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cojournal, the forum, writing

Cojournal Project

WELCOME TO THE COJOURNAL.

This is about who applies, and what we make together as a result of consciously setting aside time and space to commit to writing, writing better, and sharing what we write. (It’s an unusual space and a conversational one, but it’s not for everyone.)

Inward reflection, together

COJOURNALING gives our participating guests a chance to (re)discover the things you know. (You don’t have to sound ‘smart’ or like you are supposed to win something for your job—a raise, a grant, or some accolades for a good line. Instead, it’s about you. Your world, your reflections, your story.) The heart of what makes you you. It’s not coaching. It’s not a writing course. It’s not a trick. The cojournal has really worked for people. So we’re back, with it. Here in mid-2017. Bringing it here, but in a very low-key way, for those of you who happen to be on this page and are open to it, I invite you to apply. Limited seats. Are you ready?

How to find out more

THIS IS A PAGE with details about what is happening now. See what you think, and maybe see you on the other side. —KM

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cojournal, the forum

N – 1

THIS IS FUNNY.

Two years ago I was going on a journey. I wasn’t sure whom I’d meet, or what would happen when I got there. There were a handful of scattered appointments, nothing set up truly, to be honest, but I had a feeling about good things to come. Showing up. That was the important step. I had to go on two airplanes to get there, then I got there. I wrote a lot. I thought a lot. And I slept more than I had in years.

What happened after six weeks in a faraway place, far from anyone I knew or anyone I would ever see again, was remarkable. Truly. It wasn’t like I knew this was going to happen. But a number of super conversations really did take place. Talking about chemistry, bicycle lanes, composition, uncertainty, intrigue and an odd concept about going inward to do the big work of reflection that I sort of sketched on a piece of graph paper tentatively and said ‘I call this, I think, N – 1.’ Great nods of recognition in something that had never been spoken between us. People who were new.

And in those moments I had insights, insights that were going to lead to bigger ones. Things you put together, without overthinking in our logical Western overly designed rational way, thinking in a different style. In my sleep.

Dreaming.

Going inward.

Finding the bliss of solitude, and discovering what it felt like all over again to just be quiet. Alone. All alone. Sometimes for days in a row. I mean, kind of. I still had to go out and get groceries and have the odd smalltalk with people also hermit-ting like me. I did these things. It worked out. I knew somehow that what I needed to do was visit the ‘N – 1’ space. Yes.

‘What are you doing in Sweden?’

‘Um.’

‘Are you visiting someone?’

I thought briefly of the young lad who owned the boat I was renting. Technically you had to be a firm friend with someone if you were going to do that. There were rules and regulations. The people gave me knowing looks, and nods, and smiles. But I wasn’t visiting him. That seemed ridiculous. I was visiting someone, though, all right. The more I thought about it, the less strange it seemed.

‘Yes. I’m visiting me.’

A NEW CHAPTER BEGINS for Kismuth Books & Publishers, then. Helping others also make room for this kind of space. Space to go inward. Space to reflect. There are two programs on offer, and they are outlined here and here.

I wonder if you are curious? Check them out, if yes.

If you’re wondering about the COJOURNAL project, there are limited seats by invitation for that. Do let me know if you know about this, and might be interested in finding out more. Best way is through the form at this page, be sure to ask for Kismuth.

Wondering what happened after the boat? Here is a link to the essay about it, ‘Six Weeks in Scandinavia.’

Oh, also. I forgot to tell you what was funny. YESTERDAY, of all days, someone tells me he doesn’t think I’m the kind of person who gets together with girls for ‘girltalk.’ I mean, he seemed perplexed when I said I had a friend in San Francisco I stayed with a whole week drinking wine and talking late into the night with, having, you know, ‘girltalk.’ ‘You don’t seem like you’d have girltalk, he said. You seem like you might start a conversation something like, “I was thinking about the space between zero and one…”‘ I laughed. Then I actually did start thinking about it. Then I was like, wait, wait, wait. This is it. This is IT. This is N – 1. More to say, but I’ll expand in the smaller, closed writing circles. —KM

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books, cojournal, the forum, writing

Imagine

THINGS ARE MOVING in a new direction. Isn’t that always how it is, though?

If this were a letter, it would be to the people who had been reading the Kismuth e-letters, which I remember sending probably too often from the year I started Kismuth, 2012. I have stopped sending them, more or less. I guess because sometimes things find their natural ending, don’t they? Cycles. Time. Shifts, the story.

But I do remember writing a lot, and in the letter style. It would open in this kind of slow, easy way: I wonder how this note finds you, and how you are feeling where you are. Perhaps I’d go into a bit of a soliloquy, talk about something philosophical and maybe (probably) abstract. Esoteric. Admittedly it was a thing that would happen, an illogical compulsion towards illogic. Then I got into quantum physics. Then I learned about uncertainty, and its principles. I got intrigued, studied, and wrote completely other things for whole other segments of people. So I stopped with the e-letters to people in Kismuth, those whom I would meet while traveling in Viet Nam or India, who would ask me what I was doing, to whom I’d respond in my earnest and idealistic way that I was writing a book. A book about The Road, about the choice to go On It, and take a chance on things and buck the status quo, for better or worse. Sometimes it was better, sometimes it was far worse, but most of the time, and I think this is the thing that I must not forget, there was really good learning. And that learning is where the other things happened. Things that some people call ‘growth.’

I would go on about so many topics in my letters, much of those letters were long and long-winded. I don’t know. Somehow they led to new things, as things often do. I learned how to write in a way that was my own way. I stopped it with the old styles, the ones that had become bad habits. I won’t blame anything for that, they just were. Part of it was being afraid to say too much, at once. Fear. Fear of being seen as who I really am. When, I guess, if I am truly honest with myself (and you) about this, the thing is, if you don’t put who you really are into a thing, into a work, it’s just not going to be that interesting. To anyone. So you have to do it. For better or worse. Again, that refrain. This time, where will it take me?

The journeys are always good teachers. The reflection that happens at the endpoints even more so. But over the years I find myself returning to the same themes. Those of imagination. Those of love. Those of destiny, and the question, ‘What about if?’ But in a much more resigned way now than in that anxious kind of style that attaches itself to the young and dogmatic and idealistic and did I say dogmatic? Yes. Yes, I did. That is the key word, there.

So much more to say. I’m afraid if I put more here, for now, you will become bored. I am going to stop, then. This would have been the eletter from Kismuth, but as this is a new place, a bloggy kind of place, and as this might invite new people, as it has somehow magically done in the past (blogging, I mean), I will see what happens. The new territory is as dogged, strange, dark at the corners as the real road was, in 2013. The new territory is a walk into the Art, the search for Beauty. It was always at the heart of it, though. This quest to find the better, the meaningful, the elegant and eloquent in that which is around us, right here, where we are.

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