IAJW Member Spotlight Interview with Richard Bliss

Richard Bliss is a dedicated member of our IAJW community.  He lives in the United States in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. The following is a recent interview with him…

Why did you join the IAJW? 

In my busy life I felt that journal writing, something I was passionate about, was getting left behind. I wanted something to help me get better and stay focused on writing.

What do you like best about journal writing?

What I like best about Journal Writing is that I can have a quiet conversation with myself. I can set aside the noise of the outside world and allow the thoughts and ideas flow from my mind onto the paper in front of me. And as they flow, I’m able to hear my own voice reveal itself. And oftentimes, it is this voice that brings calm reflection, insight, and perspective. Something that is often missing when I’m rushing through my day and week.

In addition, my journal writing for the past 40 years allows me to see my own growth as a person. Looking back on life’s events, I’m able to see the hand of God guiding me at times when I felt lost, supporting me when I felt down, and encouraging me when I felt alone. My own words at times reveal things I didn’t see at the time and provides a sense of discovery that I may have not been aware of.

What is one journal writing or creative writing tip (advice) that you would like to share?

One tip I provide for journal writing and for creative writing is to remember that skill of writing is something that needs to be practiced, like a muscle, to make it stronger and better. We often believe that writers are gifted and born that way, when in reality, it is hard work, and lots of practice that makes someone a good writer. And the secret is to not get caught up in the perfect writing, which will paralyze us, but instead, to sometimes write nothing at all, to take a blank piece of paper, and set a time limit, and then begin writing. Not thinking, no editing, and without stopping.

What is one of your favourite books on journal writing or creative inspiration?

There are two books that have influenced my writing. The first is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. As an adult, when I began to write seriously for my profession, her book helped me overcome many obstacles.

The second book will be a surprise to many. It is Illusions, Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. This book inspired me to write my story, to write what I believed, and to have that conversation with myself. It isn’t a ‘writing’ book but instead it is a book that is written almost as a journal. I’m never without a copy.

The one thing I would like you to know about me is…

I lived a very unique childhood. My mother was married five times before I was 12. We lived in a one room cabin in the woods in Fairbanks Alaska without indoor plumbing, the outhouse was out back and was a hole in the ground and very cold on a dark Alaska night. I won the blue ribbon at the county fair for my pig when I lived on a farm in Minnesota. I still have the ribbon, and my great-grandfather, who was born in the 1880s, taught me how to fish and helped me catch a fish in Lake Coeur d’Alene in northern Idaho. I also changed my name when I was a Senior in High School. We moved 14 times during my childhood, which helped me appreciate the differences in people and places.

What is your favourite part of being an IAJW member?

My favourite part of being an IAJW member is an easy answer. It is the amazing people I’ve been able to meet and the astonishing stories of strength, courage, and loss that have touched me to tears on many occasion. I come away from each meeting filled with emotion and lifted up by the people in our group.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I personally believe that writing unlocks our souls and allows our silent voice to be heard. This voice is drowned out by the world, and shouted down by the critics. In my role as a business owner, I employ young women who dream of writing, and I make sure that they pursue their dreams and I assist in them becoming published authors. Writing is the greatest invention ever created in the history of the world and helping others to find their voice through writing is a lifelong passion of mine.

Thank you Richard – your words and presence make a difference in our IAJW Community.  I appreciate all you share with us including this interview!

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