“It is only by expressing all that is inside that purer and purer streams come.”
I found this quote while reading one of Brenda Ueland’s books about ten years ago (I read two in the same year–If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, and Me: A Memoir). I loved it because it gave me permission to just write and get it all out, everything I wanted to say, with no worry of what anyone else thought of it, and because the expressing of it, the ‘getting out’ of it was good, according to her. And according to me; it felt good to spew out whatever I wanted to say and felt was important, worth remembering or sharing or questioning. At the time, I was feeling criticized and selfish for writing so much stuff about myself, my memories, feelings, thoughts, questions and ponderings. Members of my writers group were making up stories, things out of the total blue, while I was always writing something based on me and my past experiences. But reading Brenda Ueland’s books helped me to see that it was OK. Even if it was navel-gazing or whatever I feared others might judge my stories to be, I was getting them out. And purer streams would come if I did. Hopefully that’s what this blog will lead to as well, purer and purer streams–as well as a few people enjoying wading in my streams or at least getting something out of them.
More of my favorite Brenda Ueland quotes:
“No writing is a waste of time – no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good.”
So much of what she wrote resonated with me! And I’d not read things like this other places, things so affirming and empowering and which matched the way I felt about writing. My initial and primary motivation for writing was never to show off or brag or preach (I was embarrassingly weird and flawed, I knew that! ) but to confess and share what I wished I could’ve read somewhere as a kid–that someone else had felt as I had, and that it was going to be OK. I wanted to connect with kids who I knew felt alone and to share what I knew or learned that had helped.
“At least I understood that writing was this: an impulse to share with other people a feeling or truth that I myself had. Not to preach to them, but to give it to them if they cared to hear it.”
“…writing is not a performance but a generosity.”
Yes, yes, yes! Writing was a sharing, a giving. I could put it out there and people could take it or leave it. I wasn’t shoving it in their faces. As someone who’s always felt the urge to express myself, but someone who’s shy and reserved, that’s part of the great appeal of writing–it’s liberating, powerful, and giving, yet not pushy.
Brenda Ueland (1891-1985) was a was a journalist, editor, freelance writer, and writing teacher. She lived in Minneapolis and Greenwich Village. An interesting character–hearty, brave, fierce, and feisty, especially for her time and gender–she walking briskly for hours (5-6 miles) a day in even the snowiest, bitter cold winter weather. Her writings are deep, spiritual, and encouraging. She found inspiration in Vincent Van Gogh and William Blake, and she passed that on. She inspires me and evidently many others as her book If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit is still considered by many to be one of the best books ever on how to write.
It was so hard to choose just a few quotes from all the many jewels I underlined when reading the book. For a good sampling of them, check out the link below (or better yet, read the book): http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/145456.Brenda_Ueland