6.02.2011

Do What Gives You Peace : Write.



I was in the midst of an enthusiastic email today when I realized how rarely I speak to myself in such a way. A very very kind colleague of mine recommended me for a new writing opportunity and as I wrote my email submission, I was saying,


Writing is my life passion, it's what I live for! 

when I stopped and thought to myself,


If that's true, then why am I constantly constraining myself whenever I feel the urge to write? 

The urge comes so often and so naturally that my first instinct is to sift through the thought and pick it apart rather than immediately writing it down. I self-edit before the words even reach the page. If my brain were visible by computer screen, the cursor would move back and forth so fast that hardly a sentence or idea would ever reach completion on most days. 

I continued writing the email and submitted it, but the frustration with myself stuck with me. Add it to the list - there is a lot in my life to be frustrated about at the moment. Finances. Family. My grossly unkempt apartment with week old dirty dishes and laundry that's clean but unfolded and receipts scattered everywhere. Time feels like a farce when it runs faster than your mind can keep up with.

This is the drama that is my life. In the midst of everything that is truly sad and scary and strange that I cannot control, I allow the one thing I have going for me, my true passion, to be to an insecurity, something to fear. And because it has the vast potential to transform my life and I know it, I allow my dream to become entangled with all that I am terrified to hold fast to, and also to let go of.

When I let myself do it, it gives voice to unspeakable peace. Yes, it is a paradox. The things I cannot say, the feelings that I live with and the fears and worries and also the irrepressible, naive, cock-eyed hope and faith that I carry with me can be uncovered and unpacked and analyzed and laid to rest, maybe even with the chance that it will grow and flourish into something new, if I only let it.

In the midst of my frustration, I read a post by one of my favorite writers, Shauna Niequist, this morning about her process of learning through writing. She's on her third book now, and she says,
"Once again today, I’m reminded that writing is more about learning than telling, more about discovering than reporting, more about revealing than pronouncing. I’m showing up today for the first time in a long time, humble before the page, or the laptop as it were, ready to learn, ready to discover."
I self-edit because I think I have to have it figured out before I say it. In some cases, that habit works to my advantage, but in writing it squelches my creativity and exposes my self-consciousness.
If the only constant in life is that we are all learning to live, then as I write about living, I am in a process of learning. And I can be at peace with that.

Thanks for reminding me through your reminder, Shauna. 

3 comments:

Melissa said...

Amazing post! I can really relate...

s a m said...

Bethany, this post rang so true to me today. I am often quieted when I finally sit down to write by insecurity.

And the excerpt from Shauna is amazing - than you for sharing!

Monica {bohemian twilight} said...

"I self-edit before the words even reach the page."

I did this with art. It's a tendency towards perfectionism, which stems from fear. Of not being good enough. We strip away joy from the things we love most in an effort to Get It Right.
Madness isn't it?

enjoying your words muchly.

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