Rekindling

This morning I had to shuffle through carcasses of unfinished drafts scattered across my desktop. Last week left a holding pen of limbo, posts for the blog that never made it, leaving the Archives blank and my mind in question.

I’ve written all of my life, journaling, submitting work, studying literature in college, and sharing in this blog forum for the last five years. My writing has had different phases, different focus and meaning over the years, but I don’t recall that I’ve ever questioned its place in my life. It has always been here, it has always been a part of me.

These past few weeks, however, I found myself wondering about words, especially my own. Questioning their necessity, and feeling like there were too many streaming from my fingertips, that simply were unnecessary. I’d been finding solace in silence, though I questioned even that, as a possible avoidance tactic from something I was too afraid to face.

I was enjoying the ease found in implementing daily tasks. Even washing dishes had more appeal than putting my heart to paper, as a practical kitchen task had a beginning, an end, and was completely mindless. In ten minutes, I could see the accomplishments of my work in a clean sink. My creative endeavors, on the other hand, are rarely ever tidy.

It was nerves, as well. Last week was edging me ever-closer to the writing workshop with Cheryl Strayed, an accomplished writer, well-known for her bestselling book-turned-movie, “Wild.” I would be among a fortunate sixteen participants to spend two full days in her tutelage, learning about “The Story You Have to Tell.” Like so many, I had immersed myself in “Wild,” almost not wanting her to reach the Bridge of the Gods, the finish line of her 1100 mile solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. That bridge would mean the final chapter, and “Wild” was a book I didn’t want to end.

courtesy of www.cherylstrayed.com
courtesy of http://www.cherylstrayed.com

 

The book is about a young woman finding her way, while I am a middle-aged mother/wife/writer, feeling more disoriented than I did when I was in my thirties, raising a five-year old, alone. Disoriented in my creative writing life, that is. My external world is the most settled its ever been in my 42 years. Health, love, family, home. There can be the usual modern-day stresses, but my basic human needs are gratefully covered.

But the words. They would come, and then fall flat. Five days before the workshop, I stood in my kitchen chopping onions, and dared to consider it. Blasphemous in even thinking the thought…be damned, I entertained it anyway. What if I just pulled out? I could call the workshop coordinator and explain that I couldn’t come. My decline would softened by the boon that the next person in line on the long waiting list would get to attend. Right?

The onions were minced, as I observed the inner wrestling of mind and heart. To fantasize of walking away from such an opportunity, clearly showed my current state of unrest in my work. I took note of the fear, but did not act. I knew I had to go, even if it would be with a proverbial prostration at the door, and potentially nothing for the prompts. I settled with the decision that the least (or maybe the most) that I could do, was simply show up.

So this weekend, I had the humbling privilege to share two full days with a room full of brilliant (and generously kind) writers. Cheryl was warm, open, succinct, and ever-giving in her support of each writer in the room. Points she clearly documented in large letters on poster paper, outlined many of the specific issues I’ve been grappling with in my words. Her writing prompts pushed me, and clumsy first passes emerged with faint hopes of future promise.

On the first day, I found myself on the edge of tears on numerous occasions, though there was no specific source of the emotions. As one writing session brought about the telling of the day my parents told me of their separation, I was amazed to find, that thirty-four years after the fact, I still could crumble in the telling of that moment. There was juice there. A story of many layers. There was a room, there were people, there was a feeling, and there were sounds. And there were still questions after all of these years. And there were questions beneath the questions. This was fertile ground, with words that were worth waiting for.

At 5:40am, I know it’s just about time to wake Jeb for school. This morning is just a grazing on the inspiration rekindled in me by a weekend with extraordinary writers. I cannot go down the path of comparison, holding my words to theirs, or I could certainly feel defeated. Instead, I dive into the beauty of story. How we all have a story to tell, something that transcends our personal experience, and resonates whole and true to all humans. A tale that brings connection, that makes us feel alive, that reminds us of the fragile grace that threads us all together in this living.

I may still be searching for just the right words, but I haven’t given up on them.

10 Comments

  1. Whew! I’m so glad you went! I don’t get to enjoy your clean kitchen sink! You are an inspiration for me and a touch stone of awareness, of paying attention, and sharing. You’re writing has value for me. I feel more awake after reading your posts or viewing your photos. Your perspective jossles mine. I love your writing practice. I still imagine waking up early one morning and starting mine! 💜

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    1. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments. I want to offer words that awaken (myself and others), so when it feels like that possibility has been re-inspired, I’m grateful. I’ll admit, I’ve checked in on your awakeningwords a few times to see if I may find some gem there…I know you have them, they’re just percolating until they’re ready to flow to us in this particular format. Deep thanks, Steven!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your emotional reaction on the first day of the writing workshop is so interesting. I’ve experienced this kind of thing, too. For me, it was a kind of confrontation with my fear and then cracking it open and going ahead anyway. A beautiful, honest telling of your creative breakthrough and one which I definitely connected with.

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    1. Thanks for taking time to tell me! Sounds like I accomplished one thing we discussed in the workshop – bridged the personal to the universal, which is my aim and challenge. When we speak the truth, sometimes the tough stuff, I think this sets us free (along with the reader). Which you did brilliantly in your latest “Standards” post. I didn’t know the word “clinquant” or that it could have anything to do with a bikini wax, yet, I could relate to your very funny piece. (Archives readers, check it out- https://redosue.wordpress.com/2016/01/23/standards/). Thanks, Susanne!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad you went too. I love reading your blog and though not a writer….apart from 40 years in a diary….I understand the nerves and creative crushing as I call it. Every time I sell my wares I go through this process but always feel glad I pushed myself to do it as rewards out way the angst every time. Thank you as always for your honesty!! x

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    1. Thanks for reading and giving feedback! It always helps to know when something I communicate is relatable. I’ve pushed through many writing workshops, but this latest one had a different feeling. Just harder, maybe. Which made the benefits of going through it, all the richer. Such is the artist’s path! Thanks for sharing your creativity with the world, as well.

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  4. I’m glad the workshop rekindled some inspiration for your writing. I find your words reassuring; you echo some of my own angst, but there is a calmness in what you write. I also find inspiration from Cheryl Strayed. I appreciate the heart and the fierceness in her words about her personal struggles, dilemmas and personal truths. Wishing you flow, and peace in the waiting for the words to come. A.

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