“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
Recently a reader of this blog asked a question I have been thinking about this past week. Before we get to the question though, I first want to express my heartfelt appreciation to you my dear reader for returning to the page with me and reading me. Thank you. I am happy to be here. Grateful for the opportunity to share myself with you, to learn and to grow. Thank you. The reader asked the question:
HOW DO YOU TIE YOURSELF TO A CHAIR AND JUST WRITE?
It is indeed an important question. As you can tell by the tardiness of this blog this week, it is not all an exact science of routine and schedules that we often create for ourselves. For me personally it has and always is an exercise in: surrendering.
Writing this blog has been unlike my other writing for paid contracts for different media outlets and somehow in that space I find the capacity to “Just write” because I am on deadline or someone is paying me to do it. But approaching this page and this blog requires me to always clear my heart and mind and simply surrender to the page. And that is not always an easy task.
Writing I have discovered is not for the faint hearted. Any writer worth the title I believe will tell you of the often excruciating pain of approaching the page. Because in this instance it is ironically less about the subject you choose to write about – it is all about you and your soul. Facing you and allowing the words which you sometimes don’t have control over to land on the page – mostly – in black and white. Self-flagellation is a common hazard, regret, guilt, all of it stand between you and the page – you have to face yourself, learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, and allow it to be what it is. And it is never perfect.
Often I have an idea of what I want to write about, but I don’t know how this will come out on the page. What will it look like? Will I like what I read back? Is what I am writing true? Am I being honest? How much of myself: my inner turmoil, my anxieties, my narcissism, my insecurities, delusions of grandeur and all the good and the bad that make me who I am right now, do I want to share with you? What do I want? How do I want this story to end?
It is much like writing the future. One which has nothing to do with anyone but me. And this my dear is the scary part. Jumping into the unknown. Writing is creating, it is Art. Building a world in which you would like to live, your world. The power of words can be overwhelming, a constant exploration of yourself. Some of my friends who read my blog tell me, it is sometimes as if they’re entering into my mind, and reading my thoughts and feelings, which at once make them feel as if they are with me even though they haven’t seen me in a long time.
SO HOW DO I DO IT: FACING THE TRUTH
It’s a daily challenge in the Art of Surrendering. Since I decided to commit to a life of being a writer four years ago it has been a whirlwind romance filled with everything you can imagine, all the ingredients of an epic love story. Passion, frustration, Anger, Love, fear, rage, jealously, confusion, misunderstanding, mis-communication, lack of trust falling apart and falling back together again. Over and over each time. Hence it is not for the faint hearted. At first it was a grasp for survival, I ran to the page to save myself, save my soul, to breathe to live again. To see myself tangibly written down somewhere – to know I exist. So I would write on my journal for four hours and then go to the computer and just write, through my tears, through my anguish, through pain, through the joy. Sometimes I wrote for 8 or more hours at a time sometimes with just one hour of sleep. I had to be reminded to eat, drink, and take a bath, sleep, and walk. Nothing else was real to me but the page. It was a form of “purging” getting rid of everything which was of no use for me anymore. Most of it didn’t make sense, most of it had so many errors it would make any editor cringe in fright and disgust. Often even I can’t bear to look at it. It is so raw. That was my experience in the first few months of writing for myself. It was like medicine, bitter to taste but necessary to live.
Then it was for no one else but me. A form of prayer saying to my creator: Here I am. With all my errors, with my wrong punctuation, spelling, grammar and bad language. I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know where I am or where I’m going. But I’m here – because there’s nowhere else I can be. I’m here. Save me.
Then came the time when I decided to publish all of this unpolished, rough stuff on the internet. For all to see. And that was even a scarier. What would people think of me, would anyone understand what I am trying to say? Going through? What’s the point of it all? Why do I do this to myself when it will be easier to do something else. Will I lose friends, my ego suffered, had to die every day. In many ways I could not help it. I felt I had no choice. I jumped head first because it was the only option open to me at the time.
LETTING GO: LETTING LOVE IN
Today I choose to be here. Today I want to be here. Because there is nowhere else I’d rather be. Not because it is any less difficult, or less challenging. Each time I come to the page I reveal a part me that has been hidden even to myself. But this process has helped me to love myself unconditionally. To accept that I am part of everything and everything is a part of me. To love me with warts and all. It’s allowed me to see myself in the same way my mother sees me – a beautiful precious human being, a ball of love, a blessing. And that is what I was afraid of, I was afraid of seeing myself as love. That was the hard part. I have to see myself as love first and foremost, always without a shadow of doubt. Love helps me through the storm just before I approach the page. And that’s why I come back again and again. Each time I fall deeper and deeper in love and the writing process is less about my mistakes, which I make all the time, less about my faults, which are all still there. I focus on love and then I come to the page knowing that I’ll be fine. I am safe. I am worthy. I am love. And often when I read back, I find myself laughing because I realize only afterwards that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.
Some days are easier than others. Mostly I find myself looking forward to being here, more and more everyday. I am learning to change my perspective, to look at the 15-20 minutes which sometimes turns into days into the same feelings you get when you’re expecting to see someone you love you haven’t seen for a long time – those few minutes of waiting, of suspense and excitement those butterflies you get when you’re about to do something new but fun. I know that if I turn the corner I will find love. It’s exciting. Like reading a great book you don’t want to finish, a wonderful meeting you don’t want to end. I change my feelings. Those same feelings of anxiety into ones of hopeful excitement, jitters of a lover impatient to reunite with their beloved. Then it’s less scary and more exciting! Such fun!
I read a lot of people’s advice about writing, and many of it is very insightful and helpful. Some techniques I do incorporate in my own writing. But If I were to give anyone advise or a suggestion on “writing’ it will be to focus only on love. Our journeys are different and we have to find our own path one way or the other. The only way I found to be helpful, is to focus on love. Play the music you love, think of a person you love, find something anything you love even if it is painting your nails in your favourite colour (which I have done this week in order to come to the page! ) so you can see something you love and appreciate, especially when the subject is a difficult one for you. Do it. If love is too big a word or too abstract, think of something fun, something you enjoy, that pleases you, think of that. Focus on Love and Love will find you. Always. Nothing else has worked for me. And with love it all works out it end, magically, effortlessly. I surrender to Love each time.