Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Find Your Villa in Tuscany: Rediscovering the Joy of Writing

Italy and writing. What better combination?

From the moment I saw the preview for Under the Tuscan Sun, I wanted to see it. Okay, okay, so what really caught my attention was the hunkyRaoul Bova. Who can blame me? But I've watched it three times now and have to wonder why it spoke so loudly to me.

A quick synop: Frances, a newly divorced American writer, impulsively buys a run-down villa in Tuscany. We follow her struggles to come to terms with her new life through her interaction with Polish carpenters, the locals, Italian men, the zany and wonderful Catherine, and finally, to her fulfillment as a writer once again.

A scene in particular caught my attention. Frances sits in the marketplace with a fellow tourist. He wonders how to describe the scene around him with a mere postcard. She offers to write it for him. He asks, "Are you a good writer?" Her reply: "I used to be."

I think that scene changed the way I write.

Let me explain.

As Frances put pen to paper, she forgot, for a moment, that she is in Italy by herself; that her husband is a lying cheat; that she is lost in life. She just wrote. And she didn't do it to be published, to receive praise or criticism. She wrote just to write.

Despite the fact that one day I will be hooking up with my Italian relatives and asking them if they have an unused villa lying around, I made a discovery within myself.

I had lost the joy of writing just to write.

The other day I took my journal and pen and sat on my front porch. It was a lazy, spring Sunday afternoon, perfect for reflection. And reflect I did. I wrote pages and pages in my journal that day, something I rarely do. And I just wrote what I saw, what I felt, what I heard. Anything and everything was fair game. I loved stringing the words together descriptions, feelings, thoughts, observations.

When I finished, I felt at peace. I didn't write any of it for an editor's eyes to see, or anyone else's, for that matter. I wrote because I wanted to write. And that's all.

When was the last time you sat down and wrote, just to write? Just for the simple joy of playing with words and phrases, of listening to everything around you, of listening to your heart?

A friend of mine, a published author, quit RWA. It wasn't the people or RWA itself, but she had made a realization. Her writing had become too focused on publishing instead of on the joy of writing. And she needed to change that.

I'm hoping to keep the balance before it gets to that point because I love being an RWA member and a member of my local chapter. But I found my own footsteps walking down the same path. I was becoming fixated with writing for publication instead of writing because I love to.

Here is my conclusion and it might help you. The first draft should come from the heart. The second should come from the head.

Of course, I don't want my joy of writing to diminish any when I'm working on my second draft, but of necessity, I must allow my inner critic to lend its thoughts to me upon occasion. If we want to become published, then we must take a look at our work through publishing eyes.

But to keep you balanced and to keep yourself from burning out, take time to write - daily, weekly, monthly, whatever - something just for you. A journal entry. A poem. A short story. A personal essay. Sit and relish the words you put on paper - let them flow over you like a fountain of spring water, refreshing and cool, nurturing your writer's soul.

Remember why you started this writing gig in the first place. Remember why you want to do this for the rest of your life.

For me, I've told my husband that I want that villa in Tuscany someday (minus the cheating husband and divorce) because I want to write looking out at the rolling green hills and valleys of my ancestors. And I want to sit and write about those olive trees and vineyards, the rapid Italian language, the pulse of life from another culture, the Italian sunset - just for me.

Just for the joy.

COPYRIGHT 2004 by Melissa Marsh


Anonymous Michelle said...

Mmm...nice backdrop.

I remind myself that, while I'm still unpublished, I have that luxury to write whatever I want, whenever I want.

Even when I am convinced my book is total garbage, every once in a while there's a moment that makes me smile. That's the joy, for me.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Jill said...

Beautiful backdrop, nice reminder post to enjoy the process, enjoy every moment.

1:40 PM  

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