Raw Journal Passage: On (Not) Writing

“Why do I choose not to write?

  • Because I feel like I don’t have enough time for it.
  • Because I worry that my ideas are stupid, that I’ll never be good enough or have anything worthwhile to say.
  • Because I fear my own inability, my mediocrity.

As long as my ideas for poems and stories and essays remain in the realm of ideas, I can still believe in their beauty. I can convince myself that I am (or will be in the future) a brilliant and successful and talented author. I don’t have to own up to the fact that I feel like I’m wandering around in a cold, damp basement maze in the dark with my arms cut off.

If I don’t face this awful, awesome task of writing, I don’t have to face up to the fact that I don’t have and fear I’ll never have the skill, the words, the ability to take this precious, overwhelming, beautiful world inside me and find some way, any way, to make it real.

Writing is a way of grounding my rich and wild (and, frankly, schizophrenic) inner life in a reality. It’s taking what is in my head and attempting to make something real out of it, something others can touch or feel and love or hate or use or ignore. It is scary. I fear that nobody else will care or that they will hate what I have to say or how I’ve said it or that they just won’t get it.

It’s more than that. Writing means taking the spirit of my inner self and ideas and giving them a body. And once they are fully formed, body-spirit-soul, I am out there. I am, in my writing, a body that can be bruised, broken, hurt, raped, hungry, thirsty.

The art of writing is much like the act of giving birth. It is a choice to pull something pure and beautiful and spiritual into this dirty, difficult, physical realm. It means to clothe intelligence, that airy creature, in flesh and blood, and expose it to the world, which is not always a good place. Only I am not really taking another spirit, snatching it from the ethereal realm and gifting it with a body. I am taking pieces of my self, tearing them again and again from the place where they live and throwing them into the cold and the fire.

Writing is like tearing my fingernails out one by one and giving them away in hopes that someone else will make them into gold. Then, I stare at the bloody stumps and watch, wait through the pain in hopes that more fingernails will grow back whole so I can do it all over again.”

Taken from my green journal. Dated May 28, 2011. As true to my feelings about writing today as it was a year ago. Writing is hard sometimes. And yet, it is as vital a part of my being as breath. Even when it’s difficult, I can’t not be a writer.

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One thought on “Raw Journal Passage: On (Not) Writing

  1. These are the words that spontaneously escaped my lips while reading your beautiful post: “oh wow” “mmmhh” (this was more like a closed-lipped groan) “oh man”

    Inside I thought, “Here are the words of every artist.” And perfectly penned, I might add.

    “Writing means taking the spirit of my inner self and ideas and giving them a body.” Groan. Gasp. Perfect. “. . .a choice to pull something pure and beautiful and spiritual into this dirty, difficult, physical realm.”

    Great. Now I’m crying.

    Thank you for posting this, Heather. I love you and your writing.

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