Posts Tagged With: writing
Not the drive to write, mind you. My paper journals can attest to that. They’re rapidly filling But the desire to put into publicly accessible words what I’ve been thinking, feeling, and processing? It went totally out the window.
There was the finality of letting some things go, and settling into the peace of that.
A beloved aunt died, so there was some grief processing.
There was fretting aplenty, about a multitude of things, some big things and some things that were ultimately pointless, and my first full-blown anxiety attack in years (it caught me by surprise, upon waking one morning).
Things have felt like they’ve been off-kilter and speeding up, and I felt the need to withdraw a bit, to write more to and for myself alone. Sometimes, I think, this sort of thing has to happen.
When the cycle turns, though, and the time to share comes–as it always does, eventually–I hope to put some of what I’m finding hidden in the fallows into words written for the sharing.
The red lipstick on my lips
says, “Speak, girl.
Your words have worth.
Open your mouth
and release your voice.
You were not born
to bow, to zip your mouth,
to go along to get along.
You were born to shout! You
are to be the resounding bell,
the clanging cymbal,
if you ever want anything
to change. You have to say it.
Name your soul. Name
its desires. Set this narrow
sliver of world on fire!
Say your piece! Holding back
will mean nothing when
the dam breaks. (And it will
break.) Closing in on six feet
tall you were not made to be
small, to speak small, to think
small, to dream small. Speak
so others can hear you. Let
what’s buried in your heart
pour out through your Southern,
honeyed mother tongue.
Say your peace. What will
bring you peace? You have
to name it. Proclaim it.
Stop zipping your lips.
Stop stuttering and muttering,
I’ve been sitting on that since it tumbled out March 31st, ironically, when I sat down to journal about feeling quiet in recent weeks. I shared it with some friends, but hadn’t made it public. I was nervous to make it public (it’s a lot to live up to, for me, at this point), then worried about finding a picture to go with it.
But today, bolstered by friends’ comments and having begun Jen Lee‘s soulful Finding Your Voice: A Voice and Story Course, and since this was part of what drove my decision to take the course, feels like a good time to share it. As for the picture, in the end, I think the poem speaks well enough for itself. I don’t think it needs a photographic illustration.
What do you do when chasing a long-held dream begins to feel like you’re trying to shove your feet into glass slippers two sizes too small?
Do you let it go, accepting that you are no longer the same person who originally dreamed that dream? Do you try harder to push yourself toward it, convinced the problem is only your gremlins chattering away?
These are the things I’ve been asking myself now that November is over and the 50,000-plus word novel I’d planned to write during NaNoWriMo did not come to fruition, as the Muse led me in other directions last month.
In elementary school and beyond, my teachers frequently commented that I was a talented writer. This showed up in notes on papers, in my report cards, in parent-teacher conferences, and so on. My family took notice as well. There’s a long line of storytellers in our family, including my late grandmother, who forever influenced my drive to tell stories myself.
Somewhere along the line, people began assuming I would become a novelist. I began to assume I would become a novelist. Becoming a novelist seemed like the Holy Grail, the land of the brightest and best, and, for most of my life, I was a perfectionist and over-achiever. (I’m now recovering from that.) If a brass ring dangled in front of me during my marriage to academia–kindergarten through undergrad, really–I didn’t even consider how high I’d have to jump to grab it, I just jumped and jumped and jumped again until my fingers found purchase and pulled it loose, with little regard for my well-being or what I really wanted.
I’ve spent at least half of my life jumping and reaching for the brass ring labeled “Write a novel,” never truly considering whether it was meant for me. I can write, I love to read novels, so it would follow that I’d write them, right? I’ve spent a lot of my time berating myself for not grabbing that brass ring, but it hasn’t helped and only hurt. I get tired, and have to stop jumping and grabbing. I jump and the ring seems to rise higher, out of my reach. With every failed attempt, I curse what, until recently, I assumed was laziness and writer’s block.
The thing is, last year–or maybe earlier–I realized that, at the very least, my writing had shifted. I wasn’t, and am not, blocked as a writer, though my devotion toward the goal of writing a novel sometimes blinded me to that fact. I write nearly all the time. I write sometimes for work. I write in my journal. I blog. I have a small notebook with ideas for blog posts and other nonfiction. I have poems, a few promising beginnings of short stories, and, in a purely-for-fun vein, fan fiction, littering flash drives and my laptop’s hard drive. Nearly every evening I tell stories gleaned from my time at work, frequently working in wit with which to regale my family. No, I am neither blocked nor lazy as a writer.
I simply needed to figure out that novels are not the only legitimate forms of writing. I needed to give myself permission to allow my writing flow freely into whichever form it wishes, even if that meant letting go of a long-held goal and dream.
Therefore, I am hereby freeing myself and my writing. I am letting go of my quest to grab the ring labeled “novelist,” and opening the door to any and all possibilities.
Yesterday, a realization I had in the morning collided with Jamie Ridler‘s post “Do You Call Yourself An Artist?,” which I read in the afternoon. It could not have been better, more synchronous timing! If you are at all creatively inclined, or even if you think you aren’t, I encourage you to read Jamie’s post.
I frequently ask myself, “Who am I really? What do I want to do with my life?”
I’m not sure that I know the fullness of who I am, but I do know what I want to do with my life, in my heart of hearts, and how that categorizes me.
In my heart of hearts, I am a photographer, a writer, and a life artist. What follows is my declaration of artistry.
If I could only dedicate myself to one creative endeavor for the rest of my life, it would be photography.
Wherever I am, there is always something to photograph. Light is constantly shifting, plants are constantly growing or shedding, the sky has the capability to look different at every glance. Things I see every day take on a new life and new beauty viewed through a camera lens.
Photography makes me slow down and notice. It takes me into that much-sought, but elusive, flow state faster than anything. It is meditative for me. When I’m absorbed in it, the sky could fall and the only way I’d notice is if I was photographing it at the time.
Behind the lens, I am standing in my own power.
Behind the lens, I am not bothered by things that would normally set me on edge, like insects, or heights. Oh, I do remain safe, but I’m moving from a different place, a deep intuition rather than small-minded fear.
Behind the lens, I am not afraid to take creative risks. For instance, I frequently shoot “blind,” not looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD screen on the back of my camera, but by lining up the lens itself with a subject and hoping for the best. These risks frequently pay off, such was the case with this blind but beautiful shot:
Photography found me, rather than the other way around. It found me in the form of my first digital camera in 2006, a cheap, off-brand 4.5 megapixel point-and-shoot that arrived as a Christmas gift from my parents. I found myself taking more artistic shots and less snapshots. I dove in, snapping away with it so much that I wore it out in a little over a year, when I bought my second similar camera, only this time it had a 5.1 megapixel resolution.
After proving to myself that this was not a hobby I was going to be giving up soon, last Fall I bought my current camera, a Canon PowerShot A 1100 IS, feeling it would be a good step-up camera as it had a high resolution (12.1 mpx), plenty of shooting modes (including video with sound), and manual programming options.
That’s when I became a devotee, snap-snap-snapping away as though there had never been a time I wasn’t out trying to find the next great shot.
Now, if it all comes together as I plan, I will be giving myself my first DSLR kit for Christmas, a Canon EOS Rebel XS with starter lens, and, I hope, also a macro lens. (Macro is one of my favorite shooting modes.) I checked it out, held it in my hands, and I loved the way it felt. Just seriously considering this feels like saying a big, fat, ecstatic “Yes!” to that part of my artist self.
But a photographer isn’t all I am…
Ever since I learned to write, I have been. And before I learned to write, I was speaking stories into the microphone of a Fisher Price toy tape recorder. For most of my life, since early childhood, I’ve dreamed of being a novelist and poet.
Earlier in life, I wrote poems and stories with abandon. While writing has been more difficult in recent years due to an overly developed Inner Editor, I am not giving up. I am also allowing it to take whichever form it wishes to take.
Seldom a day goes by that I don’t write something, somewhere. Sometimes it’s a blog post. Sometimes it’s just writing the story of my day down in my paper journal. Sometimes it’s a poem, shared or kept to myself. Once in a great while it’s a short story, or the start of a novel.
Today, as I write this–this am writing this, after all–I have two story/novella/novel ideas (I’m not sure what they will grow up to be) gestating in the back of my mind. And, while they grow and develop, while they aren’t ready to come out to play yet, I am feeding my writer self encouragement.
A writer is someone who writes, who longs to write, and I do; therefore, I am a writer.
I am very interested in combining the arts, spirituality, and life.
Our lives are tapestries, each thing we do a different thread. If you turn the tapestry over, you will usually find that, beneath the surface, the threads are all tied together.
Spirituality feeds my writing and photography. Writing and photography feed my spirit, and make life enjoyable.
I know that I want my life’s tapestry to be as beautiful as possible, and I try to stay centered in that.
Mundane things that we don’t think about are creative acts: choosing what to wear on any given day, preparing a meal, singing in the shower, choosing our home’s furnishings and their arrangement, for example. These, too, are threads in the tapestry.
Choosing a career or a course of study is a creative act, as these things create a knowledge base for each of us, and can create an identity for us as well.
Donating items to Goodwill or money to a non-profit of your choice is a creative act, as it creates opportunities for other people and/or other living things on this planet, and frequently creates a feeling of warmth within us.
These are just examples. Every single thing we do is a thread in our life’s tapestry, or a brush stroke on our life’s painted portrait. And where there is creation, there is artistry. This, I have come to wholeheartedly believe, even though I have to remind myself from time to time.
This is a badge to be shared, the badge of “life artist.” Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself, you, too, are a life artist, so take that badge for yourself and display it proudly, along with any others to which you feel called.