On writing

Liz Avatar

I have a friend who desperately wants to write, to be a writer.

Not sure if she wants to write books, and whether she does or doesn’t hasn’t really any effect on how I view her; she’s a writer, nonetheless.

Just because someone is not published doesn’t mean that they don’t have something to say; likewise, just because someone is published doesn’t necessarily mean that have something insightful to say.  You’re a writer, regardless of what you write and who sees it.

So, she wants to be a writer.  So, naturally I begin to pray for her.

Because she’s really going to need it.

Writing is not something to take lightly.  Sure, it’s really, really nice to have a beautifully written family Christmas letter.  Can I say really nice again? Because I have read (and written myself, to be honest here) not so nicely written ones.  And it is a good and worthy skill to craft a heartfelt thank you letter or better yet, an honest sympathy note.

However. True writing is more than these little niceties.   I want to tell her this, and yet also I want her to know that though writing is the creative expression (and sometimes soft) way of saying something, it’s hardly nice or mannerly or handles you with care.

Writing can be brutal; especially to your soul.

I say this with authority and a deep wisdom, as if I were 85 and had lived through 3 wars.  I haven’t, have no idea what that feels like.

However, I do know what it’s like to have your life turned inside out for it, all for focusing on the craft and wanting, with a sheer, desperate desperation like you have never known, this feeling of having to write.

And I have known trouble because of this.

When I was 15, my writing journey began when my mom was diagnosed with cancer and a family friend gave me a journal as a “safe” place to express my feelings and thoughts about it all.

And that journal writing took, began to proof and rise, like bread. In fact it kept, all the way up to current day, as I still do it now.  Writing in a journal is a comfort, especially when confused by my life and my feelings, which is a lot more frequent than I would like to admit.

And then at 26, smack dab in the middle of a real-life, could be Big-Important Career, a sudden and urgent enlightenment, an insight one morning while journaling-

I need to write.

And it scared the pants off of me, those little words.  What did that mean?

And most importantly, where did that come from? Certainly wasn’t from the logical, sensible part of me.  Writing just did not fit into my life.  Especially not that raw, open writing style that I tended to favor.

And then for about a year after that I could not write, especially not journals, because, well, what else would be dredged up with the soil tilling, what else would happen if I pulled everything up by the roots?

This insight also meant change; it meant that I could not stay in this place of Brilliant If I Had Loved It And Was Made For It career that most would have swooned over.

So, then, change.  And the simple notion (after a lot of inner turmoil, WTH am I doing with my life thoughts) that, maybe, just maybe, I was meant to write in some form or capacity.

And then the event in 2010 that sort of sealed the deal, a literal come to Jesus if there ever was one, the one that drove me here, to this quiet and maddening place of an (almost) daily writing practice.

This ride here, the writing ride to here, to now, has not been an easy one.  Not that anyone’s life journey is easy, but most people are at least riding in some sort of modern automobile with cushiony tires while most days I feel like I am in a covered wagon riding over rough pre-road terrain with of course, no shocks.

So, I want to ask her-

Are you sure you want to do this?

Because there is no looking back, there is no second act where you get to pull your life back together and hide the seams like before, everything nice and tidy.

Are you sure you want to do this?

Because it is not good money and it does not make sense and some days you will add something, be it an insight or a glean to someone else’s life.  But most days you are just adding noise to your own thoughts.

Are you sure you want to do this?

Because this road, know that you only have to go down this path if you have to.

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