I haven’t had much to say lately. To be more accurate, I have too much to say, too much to think about, for it to all be contained in words on a page. There are times, when big, deep, work is being done, it is best to be quiet. The need to put words on a page and think about things like word count and HTML and unique visitors can use up all the oxygen and choke out the seedlings of new and maybe better words trying to take hold.
Good writing is a damn difficult. The mechanics of good writing can be taught, subject-verb agreement, verb tense, all of that is something most anyone can pick up. What we learn in school is how to communicate information. Information exchange is what happens a millions times a day, an email concerning the new sick leave policy, a recipe for crock pot chili.
Writing about ideas, that takes talent. Writing about ideas is what happens in the humanities. With aptitude and patience, a person can reach workman-like levels on the college term paper or history mid-term but without talent, their writing is not going to be enjoyable reading.
But to write about feelings? To be able to make readers feel what you want them to feel and see what you want them to see, to be able to take a person out of their own life and own body and own experience and drop them into the experience you have constructed, that takes a Gift. That is a gift from the universe, from a benevolent and loving Good.
Gifts can not be taught. You can not work your way to Gift. The word gift implies something given freely, unmerited, unearned. You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. It is given you, a birthright.
Writing is not what I do, it is who I am. I write. I’m a writer. If I never find a publisher, if I never earn a dime, it doesn’t change the central fact of being a writer. I could no more not be a writer than I could change my DNA.
Coming to terms with this has taken many years. They were difficult years. I tried to be anything else but what I was. I tried to do what I thought would bring me the things I thought I was supposed to want. No matter how much outward success I enjoyed, it felt hollow. It felt artificial. It felt temporary.
Accepting the gift of writing is part of my work now. It doesn’t mean writing is easy. It means anything but on some days. But what it does mean is my worst day writing is better than the best day I ever had closing deals.
The feeling I get from writing is wholeness. It is complete. It is real. It is lasting. The longer I do it, the more words I write, the more I learn to trust it, which is really the same thing as learning to trust myself, to listen to my own intuition, my own gut. It means privileging my values, my intellect, my self-concept over what any force or thought which comes from outside. That is a scary thing when I have spent all of these decades looking to something or someone else to give me meaning.
I have a tremendous amount of work ahead of me. Interior work, the work of peace of mind, the work of trust, are all a part of it. Lots of exterior work, too. Words to put down. Sentences to construct. Paragraphs formed. Stories and books to build.
Plowing through the fear, standing up and doing the fearful thing is the very definition of courageous. If surviving all I have survived has taught me anything, I’ve learned I am much tougher than I thought I was. I’m afraid. I am filled with trepidation. What will keep me going forward, I hope, when the words are hard and the work is slow, is this new trust I have, the peace that has come from accepting my gift. I hope.