My name is Jane Brunette and I’ve been writing since I could pick up a pen. As a shy and unbounded kid, I discovered that writing was the best way for me to reveal myself to others, and also a reliable way to connect with the deepest part of myself — the part I would now call my soul.
I see the “soul” as the place in each of us where a particular humanness meets the vastness of truth. Universal in its impulse and particular in its expression, the soul is the part of us that through its yearning for the real can bring spirit and earth together to create something fresh. When writing comes from the soul, it doesn’t matter whether someone is skilled as a writer — or original or grammatical or poetic. If the writing is soulful, it stirs me, moves me, makes me want to live with depth — makes me appreciate being human. However much I admire virtuosity, beautifully crafted pieces without soul as the source just don’t do much for me.
The development of my approach to writing from the soul was seeded by my experience of the culture of criticism — and writing to outside standards — that prevailed when I was a young writer. At that time, I was writing fiction, publishing in small literary magazines and attending writer’s conferences where everyone submitted work to people who didn’t know them and received criticism in return, much of which was overzealous and off the mark. I found the whole experience unsatisfying and a little sad. My turning point came at a writer’s conference where I attended a workshop led by a well-respected literary writer whose first published story appeared in The New Yorker. On a break, she told me that my work had great promise and she offered to mentor me.
“I’ll help you write a New Yorker story,” she said. When I asked what she meant by that, she told me how she had come to be published there: she scrutinized hundreds of issues of the magazine, carefully analyzing the similarities in the stories that pointed to the editor’s taste, and then she created a story to those standards and kept refining it until it met all the criteria. She sent her first story to the editor twenty times until finally it was accepted, and she was in. “It’ll be much easier for you,” she told me, since she’d already done all the analysis. She gave me her contact information.
I never contacted her. While her method may have served her soul in a way I can’t know, for me, it felt like a deal with the devil. Rather than being inspired to publish by her offer to mentor me, after this conversation, I gave up publishing my work all together and for many years, dove deep into a process on my own to find out what would help me write from and for my soul. In this process, I discovered a way of writing that has been a major source of nourishment and spiritual growth for me. Now confident that I am no longer in danger of deals with the devil, I’m publishing my work again — and it is deeply satisfying to have people respond to my authenticity rather than to my imitation of what I think an editor (or anyone else) would want. I’ve attempted in the materials on this website and in the writing circles I lead to share something of what I’ve learned over these years about throwing off the judging voices and writing from the inside out.
If you’d like support for using writing as a deepening process as well as for creative expression, we should talk. I mentor writers via Skype in bringing their work to the next level of congruency and authentic expression. I have supported numerous authors as they wrote their books, helping them to let go of relying on the critic and instead, enter the spacious regions of exploration and deep play as the source of their art. I have also mentored those who are interested in writing as a more personal process without the goal of mainstream publication.
You can learn more about my approach to writing by downloading “3 Attitudes that Produce Soulful Writing” (in the sidebar). For a taste of some of the writing I’ve done using this process, have a look at my blog on my flamingseed website, where you’ll also find more about my background and interests. Some of my writing can also be found on The Huffington Post and in my book of poetry, Grasshopper Guru.