Setting your story free
I am typing this Day 2 post (of my writing journey) in the middle of April 2019. Does that mean I stopped writing last April? No. I still wrote but what I wrote underwent many revisions. First, the more I wrote, the more I learned how to write. This learning curve continues to this day. But there were also other events that influenced my writing. Sometime during May 2018, I had a health scare that jolted me into looking at my life more closely. What was I doing? Was I happy? What emotional baggage was I carrying and wasn’t it past time to put it down? Obviously, this kind of soul-searching had an effect on my writing. For a short time, it made it heavy and serious. If you’d read the story then, it would’ve made you feel very grim. Life is beautiful but it’s hard, you would’ve said, shaking your head sadly. It teaches us lesson after lesson, you would’ve concluded, feeling depressed.
I’m glad you didn’t read the book then.
Reading is a way of learning and acts as a gateway to every kind of emotion and adventure. Books chronicle the spectrum of human experience. Of course, it isn’t always light or fun. But I wanted to write a book that would share the joy that comes with reading a good story. One where you became the heroine and all these things happened to you and it was only when you closed the book that you realized that it was a story. One that made you wonder if all that we can see, feel, and touch is all there is. I wanted to write that kind of book. (Ha. We’ll see if I can.) So, I’m glad you didn’t read that earlier, more serious version of my writing. Because the heaviness corrected itself. I’ll tell you how that happened. First, and this is going to sound awful, but here it is- while I was going in for tests for this health issue, I felt like I was in a space where, temporarily, I didn’t need to worry about anyone else. As if I was now in a protected zone, allowed to focus only on myself. (Who knew that I needed permission to focus on myself? If anyone else had told me this, I would’ve been horrified that they felt that way.) The other realization was that I could let go of all the daily schedules, routines, appointments, etc. and people, things would be okay, eventually. It wasn’t always my job to hold everything together. I was dispensable. There is a poem by poet and author Robert Bly that I have only recently discovered though I wish I had found it years ago. It’s called Things To Think and while the entire poem is beautiful, it’s the last the two lines that always make me cry. (Please Google it. You’ll fall in love with it.)
These two seemingly different feelings- I’m as important as anyone else but I’m not that important either- set me free. Even before my results came in, I started feeling liberated from the obligation of being somewhere, doing something all the time. From the obligation to be perfect all the time. Liberated from my own heavy expectations, and that of others. Feeling the elusive feeling of detachment from the outcome. Whatever the diagnosis, I would be ok. (No matter how detached I prided myself on being, I know this part was easier to deal with only because my kids are older.) The results were benign but the issue itself had done something for me. I stopped taking myself so seriously. I stopped taking the writing so seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I was still very committed to writing but I didn’t weigh the words down with my expectation. I wanted to tell the story for the joy of it. The story itself was set free, liberated as if it now had permission to be itself and not just a vehicle for personal angst. It grew in size, becoming more complex. The characters took on lives, and peculiarities, of their own. And that’s when the journey began in earnest… I’ll have Day 3 of this writer’s journey up soon.
In parallel news, the book club discussed our first dystopian novel in May: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas.
Text and Photography © Bookended.org