Am I a writer? Yes. Unequivocally, I am a writer. My world would be quite empty if I could not write as words are the creative vehicles I use to navigate the many spheres I inhabit. My identity as a writer is long-standing and it is in the process of taking new shape.
Recently, I submitted a past essay post of mine to the Elephant Journal and…they did not say no!! They didn’t say yes either, though they offered me a “maybe” and asked me to consider some revisions. Specifically, they suggested I try to make it more personal as to how I follow my own advice. My truth: as much as I cherish personal depth and I actively promote vulnerability, openness and depth in my work as a counselor and educator and in my relationships, I do not feel terribly comfortable being intimately transparent about my own inner world. In fact, my professional training paired with my family upbringing taught me very well how to make others’ needs and realities the center of my attention. My super power, if you will, is being able to be with another, focused and present, in the depths of pain and through struggles, learning and transformations without entering my personal needs into the equation.
And, here I am, literally, this minute writing. I am writing despite the sinking inkling that my Elephant re-write has not made the cut. I am in a new old home, living in a different region of the country after an election that has magnified astounding chasms in this nation and I am a working mom not currently working, at least in the traditional sense. I ran my own counseling practice and consulting business for many years and worked in government and non-profits before that. I have written copious numbers of papers, reviews, reports, proposals and documents required in my field. Writing is certainly integral to professional communication. In Sub Rosa fashion, I wrote poems and short stories and personal journal manifestos lamenting and declaring one thing or another, all without an external audience. Now, I find myself in a whole new zone as a writer and it feels remarkable and unnerving all at once. What is my super power feels like my hurdle. I know, in my bones, that writing about personal experiences and growth and this shared humanity we all find ourselves in is all about keeping myself in the equation. My ability to show myself through this process matters. I matter.
This spring, shortly before our Big Move, my dear friend invited me to an author reading hosted by a neighbor of ours. This author was a finalist for a state writing award for creative non-fiction and was reading excerpts from her book. As we arrived and were mingling with the hostess and guest of honor, my friend introduced me as a writer. Momentarily stunned as this registered, I stifled the urge to choke on my afternoon chardonnay. Although I became a bit flustered and self-deprecating, something inside of me was simultaneously embracing this assertion. It wasn’t untrue, after all. As I spoke to the circle of women, my plan to dedicate time and effort to writing creatively once we moved materialized from an idea into a certainty, almost like the misty form of an apparition becoming concrete in its substance. Through the course of the afternoon and this book event, the question I most vividly remember asking our featured writer was to share what her particular writing process is like. She answered with generous candor that being a writer and the process of authorship is non-linear, wrought with emotions of confidence and doubt and, certainly worthwhile.
My own writing process, which includes working up the mettle to publish a blog post or submit an essay not knowing how it will be received, consists of tears, procrastination, comic relief, laughter, phone throwing episodes, bids for direction, elation and a peaceful sense of fulfillment. Writing from my deepest truth and being seen in this way scares the hell out of me. Being a beginner of any sort scares the hell out of me and I do not know what this will become. Yet, here I am.
Here’s to being a beginner. Here’s to being scared and leaping regardless. Here’s to not knowing…yet. Here’s to believing that if the Universe offers a trapeze of change and possibilities, it will also provide the net beneath.