Thursday, July 8, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - 3 (and The Right to Write)

I've begun to work my way through The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. 

" . . . most of us try to write too carefully. We try to do it 'right.' We try to sound smart. We try, period. Writing goes much better when we don't work at it so much. When we give ourselves permission to just hang out on the page."

So I was sitting here, not working, not trying, just hanging out on the page, when Scruffy, who was curled up on the back of my chair, suddenly stiffened, and her pupils widened, and her tail twitched.

I looked out the window, and . . .  SQUIRREL!

I mean. . . TURKEY!

Sidetracked, but just minutes before she (he?) strolled down the center of the road. Just hanging out. Taking in the sights, the sounds, the smells.

Probably a turkey writer.

Heading toward "a wavery magical spot" shimmering ahead.

I wonder what kinds of words a turkey writer uses. What does a turkey call a human? How would a turkey describe me as he peers from behind that tree? What stories does he tell his turkey friends? Does he talk turkey, get serious, pull out the white board and try to solve the problem of humans in their habitat?

Or does he just go with the flow? Forget himself while his feathers quiver with the wonder of "rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting" humans. Does he just put his little claw in the dirt and write what he hears?

"We can either 'think a plot up' or we can 'jot a plot down.' We can either 'think of something to write about' or we can write about what we happen to be thinking about."

"How much control are we willing to surrender for the sake of allowing creativity to move through us rather than our trying to flog it forward for agendas of our own?"

"Most of us are really willing only to write well, and this is why the act of writing strains us. We are asking it to do two jobs at once: to communicate to people and to simultaneously impress them. Is it any wonder that our prose buckles under the strain of doing this double task?"


I've forgotten I'm supposed to be disturbed today. Maybe I am since I'm writing like this about turkeys.

Which brings up the question.

Did you know that three consecutive strikes in bowling is called a "turkey?"

Nobody really knows the origin of that, but here's a possible answer.

"There used to be sweepstake tournaments during the holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving. If a person bowled three strikes against the heavier pins (usually four pounds), the crowd would scream 'turkey," and the bowler would receive a live turkey for his or her performance." (from Life's Imponderables by David Feldman.)

And now you know.

So go write something.


start where you are.

And be sure to check out all today's other pleasantly disturbed posts over at 

What do you think of when you think of a turkey? 
What are you thinking of right now?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King


  1. What am I thinking of right now? That I haven't finished weeding the garden. I knew you'd appreciate that! ;)

    Good quotes, and I appreciate you sharing them. I'm off to 'just write'.

    Karen :)

  2. LOL, Karen. I haven't finished either. My husband offered to do it this weekend. I wonder if he meant it.

  3. Sometimes we try too hard and the plot and the voice sounds forced. I guess that's where writing the million words come in. We write until we no longer force it. It's hard to do. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Definitely disturbed. Definitely pleasant. Maybe even smart. "Just start where you are"

    See? I'm not the only writer distracted by turkeys!

  5. Wow, I loved this, Sandy! Apparently I need to give myself permission to just hang out on the page. Thanks for pointing out what I needed to hear today. :)

    Right now I'm TRYING to think of ANYTHING, but I'm at Panera's and the clamor is buzzing my brain so hard it's not working very well. LOL

  6. How fun! This post sounds like something I would write--have you been hanging around me too long? :D

  7. I love this! :) One of my favorite post by you! Lots of smart thoughts. Lots of disturbed thoughts. (No, I did not know that about bowling and turkeys)

    But this comment:

    We can either 'think of something to write about' or we can write about what we happen to be thinking about."


  8. What I'm thinking right now is that you've hit the nail on the head (ouch!!!)

    We're afraid to write if our words are imperfect.. what makes us thinks perfect words can come from imperfect people?

    Gobble, gobble, gobble....

  9. You are so funny, Sandra! I think "Start Where You Are" was the best advice Cameron gave me. I hope you enjoy this book. And...

    Stay disturbed. It makes things interesting!

  10. @Laura: And so we write. And maybe, if we can just show up, maybe those first million won't really be so bad. And if we continue to strain, maybe the next million will be just as bad.

    @Cassandra: Suddenly I realize I've written about turkeys more than once.

    @Julie: Did I read somewhere today that you had relaxed and started listening to conversations? Something about someone being old at 49?

    @Linda: When I start writing about ducks . . .
    @Duane: Thanks. There's a lot of meat in this book. I'm going to try to relax more.

    @Karin: Perfect words from imperfect people. Good one. But maybe it could happen, in part, if we're listening well. I mean, look at the Bible.

    @Laura: No problem with the disturbed thing. It comes naturally. I'm loving this book. At the point where I need to go buy some tabloids!

  11. What I'm thinking of right now is that I am checking on some blogs when I have a thousand little chores to get started on and my wife will wake up soon and wonder why I haven't started on those chores and am sitting here on the computer instead but that's what I wanted to do even before my first cup of coffee, just to check in and see how folks are doing and connect a little online in the morning. And turkey: I must pick up some turkey at the deli when I get to the grocery store. I'm leaving now.

  12. @Bradley: Did you remember the turkey?