Terry Tempest Williams on writing

I’m currently reading Writing Naturally by David Petersen, and while I’m not crazy about his style, I am getting a lot out of the book. One of the things I found was a selection of a graduate school paper by Terry Tempest Williams. The paper is called “Telling Our Stories, Finding Our Place” an unpublished paper written in 1991; University of Utah Libraries.

Here is a sample paragraph:

Autobiographical writing introduces us to an ecological model of thinking because we are forced to consider the relationships, to embrace as Gregory Bateson has said, “the pattern that connects.” It is this kind of synthesis of personal history and our relationship to the world that creates myth… the new old story. And it is this realization that propels us out of our own fear of the personal into the collective. Writing has a life of its own. It accesses life, forces the truth. Why does everyone want to be a writer? Because we crave for expression, for production, for construction of something personal. Ultimately it becomes your personal myth. Mythology is participatory. We have to continue our story.

This reminds me a lot of a conversation I had with DW (aka Man of War) regarding why he documents, illustrates, films (he’s also a writer):

“It goes back to having tangible items. When I was younger, that was all I did was document my life. Videos. I wanted everything so I could remember everything I ever did. I don’t know if that’ narcissistic or materialistic, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to have.”

Myths and rituals and tangible items you can hold in your hand — like a book or a tool or a collection of flies. I don’t know how many things in our lives you or I can say that we or someone around us made, but I’m fascinated by that idea and have been for a really long time. Sadly, so much of what I create is 1s and 0s on a computer somewhere now. Time to start making more tangible items.


About mstansberry

Matt Stansberry currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and son.
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4 Responses to Terry Tempest Williams on writing

  1. Bpaul says:

    Rocking post. Cool to see Gregory Bateson’s name come up, I did a serious study of him while I was reading my butt off up in the fire lookout in ’93. Cool stuff.

  2. David says:

    Write a book and we’ll publish it. No matter what it takes. We’ll get it done.

  3. Tony Heckard says:

    You want to meet David Petersen??

    He will be in Bend January 26th and 27th.

  4. #2 is boss says:

    check out Arne Naess and George Sessions…

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