∀ Katy Perry’s latest album is titled Witness. Here’s a remix and a fan-made video for “Chain to the Rhythm.”
¶ Prompt from Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write.
“So much of the loneliness of modern life comes because we no longer witness each other,” writes Cameron. “Our lives are led at such velocity that we often see — and are — quite alone.”
This exercise calls for writers — who she claims are everyone, we are all writers — to begin, from here on out, on a life long journey: write three pages of longhand stream of consciousness writing every morning, every morning, every morning. This is the bedrock of any writer’s life, according to Cameron, and the antidote to anxiety, the necessary check-in with your inner self, the contact with an unguarded-you, a habit turned ritual, something-something, just do it. I started these last year when I started reading Cameron’s more well known book (google her), and like she and all her students claim, “it has changed my life.” But not in a grandiose hoorah way. But in a gentle and calm way, knowing now, with conviction and certainty, that I am living a writer’s life, and that I am writing every day. I’ve considered, but only for a second, that there is a certain sense of insidious pride in keeping up with morning pages. “I’ve done it! Another week, another year, every day, muahaha.” But who cares. I don’t write to be judged or to pat myself on the back (ok, only sometimes). Writing is, doing these morning pages that is, a self-regulation. I “prioritize my day,” and put down on paper what my last dreaming thoughts were, what my day ahead looks like, how to face it, what happened yesterday, whatever crosses the mind. I expect no one to read those morning pages, except me. And when I read them, then that’s when I really benefit. New ideas come to life. Old fantasies are given weight. I’ve even spotted a universal foreshadow in an entry or two, as in, I wrote about what I didn’t know would happen. Now, c’mon, that is simply a coincidence, right, but it’s cute enough for me to smile when I read something I wrote on Sunday, and then a week later be like, “Damn, that silly stream of thoughtless trance writing manifested itself later that day!” In that voice exactly, I think it.
What’s up? Bare witness to thyself. The previous chapter/exercise was called Loneliness. I almost titled this post “Loneliness,” and got ready to do the exercise before I had even finished reading the instructions. It called for a whole letter from your “older self” addressed to your current self. Now, I wasn’t about to share that letter with you! Jesus!
But what I did want to write on here, in this “Witness” entry, is that I had done something in my previous posts which I now look back on with a “huh” and a sigh. I have been given to writing silly little “are you listening” insertions. I thought I was being funny with them, but reading the Loneliness chapter I realized what I was actually doing. I was asking for attention, and for validation. “Hello? Are you listening to me?” In retrospect, these remarks can seem distracting. Why wouldn’t someone be reading — this very sentence — right now? To mark it (remark on it) is to exit the diegesis of discourse, kind of like using haughty literary terms to express a small and fleeting feeling inside of me, and distracting you.
So, I was asking for confirmation of what I’m doing (Cameron would say because I, and everyone, need a witness). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, to ask for attention, but by forgetting that friends have expressed their joy at reading these post I don’t do them or myself justice. I will do better to honor them by trusting that you will show up to the page, just as I will show up on the page.
This mutual trust cannot, by definition, be broken. If I’ve shown up, then you have shown up too. If you disagree, how are you reading this now?
~~Again, the shift up to metadiegsis. (Please see this, blowing my mind these days.) And back down to diegesis.~~
I only hope you start writing morning pages. They seem to have helped me, and others. Maybe it can help you too. That’s all this post is about, bearing witness to yourself.
Showing up. And asking questions. Saying hello, in any language. And saying goodbye, with a smile and a wave. Chaining yourself to a rhythm, and having a dream surf into day, every morning. Ye.