On Sunday, I discovered the word duende in a most exquisite essay by Tracy K Smith. It was required reading for students in the manuscript masterclass I’ve joined. (I highly recommend reading it. The link is below.)
Duende (according to Wikipedia) is defined as the Spanish term for a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity often connected with flamenco. It’s the spirit of evocation that comes from inside as a physical and emotional response to art. It gives us chills. It causes a bodily reaction. It makes us cry.
Our homework was to connect with our duende and write 200 words from that place.
Rather than inspiring me, the very idea of this homework filled me with dread. After reading the essay, I seriously questioned if any word I’d ever written, had ever truly originated from duende? Or if it had ever unleashed duende in my readers?
Any spark of duende I may have professed to possess till now, had been killed by the word itself. This word. This supercilious six-letter word had challenged me to a duel. It had made me doubt that my very reason for being, was any reason at all. Oh, how painful a single word can be! I hated the word!
After a restless night, I just knew I had to befriend the word or risk the potential of seeing my writing future smashed on the rocks. I researched it, shouted it out loud with a touch of flamenco flair, tested it on my friends and even shared it in a speech I gave.
Each morning before sitting down at my desk to write, I attempted to tap into my duende through journaling, music and meditation. Perhaps they would loosen me up and shed light on the words hidden away in the dark crevices of my soul?
But nothing came.
This morning, as I faced a blank screen to write this blog, it struck me that the only way to befriend this word, is to actually write about it. Within minutes a sense of peace descended. I’d surrendered to the word. I finally understood that duende has a will of its own. It will come and it will go. I can’t conjure it up or force it. I can’t find it, because it finds me.
Now that my mind is at peace, I can recall many occasions where duende has found me. Pure relief. So now I can rest easy and just keep writing.
How do you find your duende, particularly in these tough times? I’d love to know.
Finally, here’s a few things to check out this week:
- That exquisite essay! Survival in Two Worlds at Once: Federico Garcia Lorca and Duende
- If you think you have a business book in you, please join Kath Walters and I at the launch of her new book Overnight Authority: How to win respect, command attention and earn more money by writing a book in 90 days. Details here
- My ABC interview on the Power of Journaling with Lisa Leong on This Working Life (my interview starts at the 18 minute mark)
- As a thank you for following me, I’m offering The Purpose Project online course for just $97 (RRP $297) today. Use the coupon code ‘Purpose2020’.
As always, if I can be of service reach out. I’m here. I care.
About me: I’m a Purpose Educator and author of The Purpose Project. I help leaders attract and retain the best people by harnessing the power of deep purpose and storytelling. I do this through The Purpose Project for Companies, a customised consultative process for co-creating a new purpose statement and The Purpose Project Course, a 7-step online course to help employees bring their own why to work.