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Guest Blogger Clara Rosemarda – writing with depth and clarity

ClaraGuest Blogger Clara Rosemarda reveals how to write with depth and clarity.

Clara writes:

Many years ago I took voice lessons from a master teacher. He worked with people
who believed they were tone deaf. I was one of those people. My voice seemed flat as the ground I walked on, and I was too embarrassed to sing unless I was in a group large enough to swallow the sound of my voice.

My teacher, robust and powerful, sat opposite me on the floor of his music studio. With full-bodied fingers born to make music he plucked the strings of his tambura going up and down the scale. Then he sounded a note and had me repeat it. At first I couldn’t reproduce the exact sound, but after a few tries and great concentration, I was able to. He told me I had a good voice which was a surprise to me. Once I got the hang of it, whenever I missed a note, he looked straight at me with his burning brown eyes, and asked where I had gone. Then he’d have me try again, and again, until I finally got it.

These few lessons taught me that the problem was not with my voice, but my inability to stay focused and present. Although I was capable of deep concentration in many other areas, the life-long belief that I couldn’t sing disrupted my ability to listen and to replicate what I heard. Frightened that I would get it wrong, I tried to think my way through instead of trusting that if I listened I would be able to repeat the sound.

Even though I don’t plan on giving a recital in Carnegie Hall or anywhere for that matter, I do enjoy singing now for the pure pleasure of it. Most importantly, I no longer consider myself tone deaf. I have developed the ability to concentrate when I’m singing, to listen deeply, and to be present with the sounds. When you are of two minds, neither one can be used to its fullest.

The same is true with writing. When your mind is concentrated on a single thought or image, when you ARE the writing, and not jumping ahead of yourself, or thinking of HOW you are writing, you will write with depth and clarity.

In the initial creation, all that is required is that you put pen to paper and keep your hand moving. Stay with your original thought, rather than allowing the editor to sit on your shoulder telling you not to say that, or how stupid this is, or what makes you think you’re a writer? To sound a clear note, you cannot be of two minds; your mind must be fully present and focused on a single point.

EXERCISES:

  1. “His reflection in the mirror … ” Write for 1 0 minutes.
  2. “Walking through … ” Write for 15 minutes.
  3. “When I woke up that morning … ” Write for 20 minutes.
  4. Read these pieces aloud to yourself, listening mindfully, as if someone else had
    written them. What did you, the reader, hear that you didn’t hear as you were writing?

CLARA ROSEMARDA M.A. is an evocative writing teacher, poet, memoirist, intuition counselor, and workshop leader. She has been in private practice in Santa Rosa, California for over thirty years where she works with beginning as well as mainstream writers. Clara teaches workshops at Santa Rosa Junior College and internationally. In her private sessions as well as her teaching she helps people connect to and act from their most authentic selves. She was co-creator and coordinator of the popular writers’ program, The Writer’s Sampler, of the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Her prose and poetry are published in literary journals and anthologies. She is co-author and co-editor of the anthology, STEEPED: In the World of Tea (Interlink Publishing, 2004). Clara has two poetry chapbooks: “Doing Laundry” (a letterpress limited edition, Iota Press, 2013) and “Naked Branches” (WordTemple Press, Small Change Series, 2014).

Note from Marlene:  If you have a chance to take a workshop with Clara. . . do it!  I did and it was a transformative experience.

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4 comments

  1. IWasHere

    On the heels of reading an email sent to me today by Marlene, encouraging me to do this kind of exercise, I read this article by Clara. Reading the story, I found myself thinking, “well, that makes sense…”

    You see, my response to Marlene’s prior email to me, suggesting some grammatical edits to a piece I wrote was, “I don’t see myself as a writer…I am more of a story teller”

    Calling myself a writer, seemed too grandiose a word for me and what I do. So, upon completing this read, I figured I will give it a whirl and do the first exercise.

    Thank Clara for making it seem so simple. I found myself thinking I could do it, and then I did!

    I would like to share what I wrote. Where would be the best place to do this?

    ~Ida

    1. mcullen Post author

      Hello Ida,
      I completely understand. It took me awhile before I could say “I am a writer.” That felt too lofty. Other people were writers, not me. But then a writing teacher pointed out that since I am writing, I am a writer. It’s really that simple. Big grin.

      Your turn! You are a writer! Now. . . repeat three times: I am a writer. Pausing. . . while you do that.

      Now that’s settled. Story tellers make the best writers. That’s what writing is, really. Telling stories.

      Where to share your writing? You can post here, on The Write Spot Blog. Each post limited to 600 words. You can check Saturday posts here on The Write Spot Blog, “Places to submit.” If you live in Sonoma County, California, you find writing groups and places to submit at: socolitupdate.com. Check your community to see if there are writing groups, writing events, author events, writing workshops, writing conferences. Attending these types of event to network, meet other writers and find places to share your writing. Good luck~

  2. IWasHere

    Alrighty then Marlene, here goes… my ten minutes non-stop writing…
    —-
    His reflection in the mirror was one he did not recognize anymore. His face seemed familiar, a vague memory of someone he used to know.

    He did not know when exactly the first gray hair appeared in his beard, but now, this man staring back at him, had a full-on salt and pepper thing going on. “Oh my God,” he whispered at himself, “My eyes, what the hell happened?” There were crows feet. And he was not even smiling! It wasn’t the creases in his skin that bothered him as much as the hollow look in his eyes. He felt like a shadow. Maybe it was the dark rings under them that made him feel so.

    He rubbed at his beard. He wants to shave. Urgently. He is fighting back. Time may have the upper hand but he wasn’t going down without a fight.

    Thirty minutes later, he felt somewhat better and looked at least “two years younger” he thought. He gets dressed in a jeans that always scored him a few looks of approval every time he wore them. It’s been ages since. He knows why.

    He felt like she took his soul, the day she walked out. With each passing day without her call, his confidence wained waned. He lost his groove and his will.

    He throws on a crisp, white shirt, a sports coat and his boots. Reaching for his car keys and wallet, he sneaks another look in the mirror. “Not bad. Now, let’s go get our groove back!”

    1. mcullen Post author

      A perfect freewrite, IWasHere. I think you are in the groove! Keep writing. Seems like you have interesting stories to tell.

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