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Blog - The Two-Wheeled Writer

The Two-Wheeled Writer covers writing and motorcycling but not in any specific order. I write about other things too, but all are connected in some way.

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JULY 2016

Are you a writer?

RalphWaldoTrine

I first came across the writings of Ralph Waldo Trine and his spiritually enlightening book In Tune With The Infinite (first published 1897 according to my 1948 edition) over twenty years ago.

In a rather depressed state of mind, I was drinking a pint of Guinness as I sat in an overly large wingback chair in front of an open log fire on a quiet Sunday night at The Shovel, a pub on Cowley Lock in outer suburban London.

My home, at the time, was Hedgehog, a 64-foot narrow boat moored in the canal outside. My motorcycle, a Yamaha TT600 was parked nearby. It was the same motorcycle I rode through Africa and rode for motorcycle couriering. It was about the same time I’d decided to write about my travels through Africa. It was also about the same time I was diagnosed with HIV in September 1995, about a year before effective treatments were discovered, when death from AIDS was inevitable. That diagnosis was the catalyst for me becoming a writer—I did not want all that was revealed on my odyssey across Africa to die with me.

On that journey, I’d stumbled across the realisation that there was meaning behind the subtle prompts of my intuition and the many chance encounters and coincidences that came my way. And it was one such chance encounter that occurred that night in The Shovel.

Behind me, was a bookshelf built into the wall. Its shelves were filled with old hardback books, the jackets long since perished. These books were not so much carefully selected, but formed part of The Shovel’s interior decorations. The books, no doubt, were purchased by the box full to give the pub with its open log fire, a touch of literary ambience. I selected, one at random. Its cover was a dull blue. Its pages yellowed and brittle with age. It was a 1948 edition of In Tune With The Infinite. I found the words about spiritual awareness reassuring, familiar even, as this is what I intuitively came to realise in Africa. I flipped through a few more pages reading a passage here and there until the pages fell open at: COMING INTO THE FULLNESS OF POWER. Half way down the page, were the words: Are you a writer?

That was twenty-one years ago and while it took me an extraordinarily long time to write about me extraordinary journey and alll that it revealed, I eventually completed the book and it published as Ubuntu: One Woman’s Motorcycle Odyssey Across Africa (Black Inc. 2016).

Today, I still have the very same edition of In Tune With The Infinite. It is always beside my bed. Occasionally, at those times when I’m feeling doubtful; a little unsure of myself; when the voice of doom is particularly loud and I’m in dire need of reassurance, I pick up Ralf’s book and invariably it always falls open at those pages that hold meaning to whatever doubts and dilemmas I face. This is the synchronicity (the coincidences, chance encounters, the sense of knowing, our intuition), that I came to realise is the guiding hand of a greater force. The universal energy, God if you like. Do you listen to these influences too, as subtle and sometimes seemingly insignificant (but never meaningless), as they are. Or do you let them pass you by? A missed opportunity meant just for you, sent to lead you on your path: to help achieve your goals, wishes and dreams.

 

In Tune With The Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine (1866 – 1958)
Are you a writer? Then remember that the one great precept underlying all successful literary work is: Look into thine own heart and write. Be true. Be fearless. Be loyal to the promptings of your own soul.

Remember that an author can never write more than he himself is. If he would write more, then he must be more. He is simply his own amanuensis. He is, in a sense writes himself into his book. He can put no more into it than he himself is. If he is one of the great personality, strong in purpose, deep in feeling, open always to the highest inspirations, a certain indefinable something gets into his pages that makes them breathe forth a vital, living power, a power so great that each reader gets the same inspirations as those that spoke through the author. That which is written between the lines is many times more than that which is written in the lines. It is the spirit of the author that engenders this power. It is this that gives that extra twenty-five or thirty per cent that makes a book out of the class called medium and lifts it into the class called superior, that extra per cent that makes it the one of the hundred that is truly successful, while the ninety-nine never see more than their first edition.

It is this same spiritual power that the author of a great personality puts into his work, that causes it to go so rapidly from reader to reader; for the way that any book circulates is mainly from personal recommendation—any book that reaches a large circulation. It is this that many times causes a single reader, in view of its value to himself, to purchase numbers of copies for others. ‘A good poem,’ says Emerson, ‘goes about the world offering itself to reasonable men, who read it with joy and carry it to their reasonable neighbors. Thus it draws to it the wise and generous souls, confirming their secret thoughts, and through their sympathy really publishing itself’.

This is the type of author who writes not with the thought of having what he writes become literature, but he writes with the sole thought of reaching the hearts of the people, giving them something of vital value, something that will broaden, sweeten, enrich, and beautify their lives; that will lead them to the finding of the higher life and with it the higher powers and the higher joys. It nearly always happens, however, that if he succeeds in thus reaching the people, the becoming literature part somehow takes care of itself, and far better than if he aimed for it directly.

The one, on the other hand, who fears to depart from beaten paths, who allows himself to be bound by arbitrary rules, limits his own creative powers in just the degree that he allows himself so to be bound. ‘My book,’ says one of the greatest of modern authors, ‘shall smell of the pines and resound with the hum of insects. The swallow over my window shall interweave that thread or straw be carries in his bill into my web also.’ Far better, gentle sage, to have it smell of the pines and resound with the hum of insects that to have it sound of the rules that a smaller type of man gets by studying the works of a few great, fearless writers like yourself, and formulating from what he thus gains a handbook of rhetoric. ‘Of no use are the men who study to do exactly as was done before, who can never understand that today in a new day.

When Shakespeare is charged with debts to his authors, Landor replies: ‘Yet he was more original than his originals. He breathed upon dead bodies and brought them into life.’ This is the type of man who doesn’t move the world’s way, but who moves the world his way.

I had rather be an amanuensis of the Infinite God, as it is my privilege literally to be, than a slave to the formulated rules of any rhetorician, or to the opinions of any critic. Oh, the people, the people over and over! Let me give something that will add a little sweetness here, a little hope there, something that will make more thoughtful, kind and gentle this thoughtless, animal-natured man, something that will awaken into activity the dormant powers of this timid, shrinking little woman, powers that when awakened will be irresistible in their influence and that will surprise even herself. Let me give something that will lead each one to the knowledge of the divinity of every human soul, something that will lead each one to the conscious realization of his own divinity, with all its attendant riches, and glories, and powers. Let me succeed in doing this, and I can then well afford to be careless as to whether the critics praise or whether they blame. If it is blame, then under these circumstances it is as the cracking of a few dead sticks on the ground below, compared to the matchless music that the soft spring gale is breathing through the great pine forest.

Ralph Waldo Trine
(In Tune With The Infinite, first published 1897)

 

NOTE: Ralph Waldo Trine's words reflect with language of the day when women writers were not acknowledged in their own right.

 

 

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