I read a lovely post yesterday all about the angst that can accompany thinking about how we write. Is it right or OK to find that the easiest places to write are on bits of paper, or notebooks that no one ever sees? What counts as proper writing? Why does this cause us angst? What is so necessary about validation and productivity? Not that either one of these things is bad. It’s not about cussing out any kind of production or feedback as inauthentic to the spirit of creation. It is about becoming as concious as possible about the ways in which these things can begin to act, ironically, to block our creative efforts, rather than encouraging them.
Sometimes we need our secret spaces; those hidden realms where it is safe to explore the terrain of expression. Sometimes they are as necessary to our soul work as water and air are to sustaining our physical bodies.
Now there’s a big claim!
I remember a long time ago, another lifetime, when I was in a pretty horrible relationship with someone I needed to leave but didn’t know how to. I was utterly blocked. Circling myself like a trapped animal, looking for a way out the snare. I had been a keen diarist, but had not written a word for years. When the crisis point hit, and I knew that jokes aside, I was fighting for my life, the way I found a crack in the trap was through a tiny notebook. Really tiny. Less than the size of my palm. One of those novelty notebooks you could get in a Christmas cracker. And it was in here that I wrote my way out, small words spelling out the confession that this was not right. That I was not OK. In telling the tiny notebook my secret, I began a process of finding a pathway out of the woods. It was not an instantaneous liberation, but there’s a big old truth in that cliche that every journey begins with a step.
I think that when we write for our souls, we don’t do so because we may get published or gain great accolades or even 100 likes in 10 minutes. We do it because we have to. And that can happen anywhere. On a scrap of paper, or a tiny notebook. In permitting this opening, however small, the potential to write in ways that can be shared and resonate with someone else’s experience is also given a gap. This is the reciprocity that binds us together as human beings. If we judge ourselves too harshly, or doubt the validity of where our starting point might be, we block all the other things that can flow from that point. As I write more, I see that this wrestling with our inner judge and critic begins new every day. And that at various points along the way, if we are stuck, the holes in the fence might be found in the secret places we make out of scraps of paper and tiny notebooks. Spaces where we are free to be vulnerable and work it out.