Today I'm honored to share with you the thoughtful words of the lovely Jamie Wright Bagley. Jamie is a blogger and poet who has recently published a beautifully written little book of poetry entitled Book of Hours: In Shadow and Sun. As a perpetual doubter, I am grateful for how her book paves a way to engage with church tradition in such a gentle, refreshing, and non-triggering way. Download it now while it's still free! And be sure to check out the first six Women on Writing interviews here for lots more more writing practice wisdom.
One thing I love about your book of poetry is that it provides a way to engage with traditional liturgical practices in a fresh and nontraditional way. What is your experience with the Liturgy of the Hours and what prompted you to look at it in a new way?
While familiar with the liturgy of the Book of Common prayer, and praying the morning and evening prayers, I am a delighted newcomer to the practice of praying the hours. I first discovered this grace within the pages of The Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Paintner, which I read at the start of this year.
I have a great deal of love and admiration for the concept of observing the hours, and I wanted to be able to do that in my own life. So I created an interpretation that made room for the faithful doubters and free spirits who need to believe God can handle our shadows, too.
How long have you been writing poetry? What is it that draws you to that medium in particular?
I started writing poems and song lyrics around the age of 11 or 12. I remember nearly knocking over my mom in my excitement to convey the news that I had written my first song. She responded as all good mothers do, with a little surprise and a lot of support.
As far as what draws me, I think my love of music, rhythm, the swaying of trees, symbols, and pictures behind words all play a part. Imagery is a form of communication that reaches me when mere words would fall flat. Poetry is a movement my soul can blend with- a place my mystic heart finds home. I can say what I truly feel, in a comforting, rhythmic way. It feels like I have an intimate connection to a universal heartbeat. It’s irresistible.
|Image by Jennifer Upton|
What would be your ideal writing environment? How do you make time and space in your life for the practice of writing?
My first reaction is to concoct the most grandiose vision my imagination affords. After some thought, though, I realize every time I am any place but my own small and simple home, I am far too busy gathering and storing new information to actually get any good writing done, except for the occasional but unreliable bursts of one or two inspired lines. I need an environment of sameness so I am not tempted to look anywhere but within, where the writing originates. For me, a cabin in the woods would be the ultimate distraction- I would spend my hours communing with nature and daydreaming myself into alternate dimensions. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it and I see the value of a quiet getaway and refilling the soul’s reservoir for creativity; that certainly is an important part of the whole process. But in my personal experience, real writing occurs as a part of real living, embracing and drawing inspiration from everyday events and the discipline of habit.
For now, I usually sit on my bed with my laptop. I have to make good use of nights and weekends because there is no such thing as getting up before the kids. We live in close quarters so there is no withdrawing from their presence, but I have learned to take full advantage of any moments my children are occupied.
What authors or works most inspire your writing?
The answer to this would probably have to be a series of blog posts. There are so many foundational voices influencing and inspiring my words. I am most recently taken with writers such as Madeleine L’Engle, Richard Rohr, Christine Paintner, and Julia Cameron. Their experience as Christian mystics informs and mirrors my own experience, and I’m grateful for the kinship I feel through their works.
If you could give one piece of advice to budding writers what would it be?
Starve your excuses. Any and all of them. If you truly want to write, it’s worth the risk of wholehearted action and devotion- right now! There will always be something to eat your time, but don’t buy the lie that you haven’t enough. You can carve out a few seconds here or there to practice. And all writing is practice. It’s the act of showing up, building habits, giving voice to your dreams. Don’t wait. Live your dream today.