“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
At the core of every artist, and dare I say every human being, is a throbbing impulse to communicate. As we maneuver through the motions of Daily Life, we restrain our desire to throw paint at the walls and cut deep into the center of our own hauntedness to see what treasures we can unearth.
Many of us have creative hobbies that we nurture in our slivers of free time. Although we sometimes daydream of making these hobbies into something more serious one day, we convince ourselves that we don’t have time or that we ought to do something more Realistic. We are really just terrified of feeling broken open.
Sometimes, when I am feeling extra brave, I consider myself a Writer. Even so, my thoughts are scattered on flits of floating paper that bounce their way in the crevices of my neon orange room, in drawers that were once meekly designated for Organization, in the purses and pockets that I slip in and out of. When I find a new journal to claim as my own, I quickly misplace it. Ideas strike me in the most frantic of places and are scrawled onto movie stubs, business cards, and yellowing receipts.
I gather my fragments of writing together sometimes when I am feeling daring – scribbles stretched across a chilly and cracked hardwood floor. I stare at the words and try to juxtapose them into a meaningful whole, but their auras contrast and their shapes jumble into a discordant mess.
What good are words scrambled in piles across a floor?
I hear lore of First Drafts, Second Drafts, Margins, Queries, Agent Pitches – but my reality is a confetti of words exploded in pockets and stacks and crevices. Nothing of mine resembles that glistening image of Success.
If we deepen our art and write every day in an explosion of directions, but we never channel our energies forward into something concrete, are we still writers?
I want to say YES to this question, a deep and empowering Yes like I would tell my creative writing students if I had any. I want to write for the joy and process of it, for the privilege of speaking my own language, for the jazzy purple energy that gushes and bubbles out of my pen. I want teachers who can hold me accountable and fearlessly cut through the rambling muck. I want to birth something beautiful out of my fear, and I want to let myself be opened by the stories of others.
But too often we hide out and play small with our lives, afraid of stepping into our creative potential. I am ruthlessly guilty of this. We hide behind the journals that accrue in our closets and never reveal their beauty to the eyes of our friends. We write in hushed secrecy through the night, but we nervously laugh when someone asks if we are Writers, “Oh no, you’ve got it all wrong. It’s just a silly little hobby.”
We let our creative whispers of childhood lull to sleep without our tender watering and attention.
The problem with this is simple: our voices really do matter. Writing moves us deeper into an understanding of the experiences that come up in this confusing lifetime. We read and write to cling to a flickering hope that someone out there feels the same clatter of discordant emotions that we do. We toss our words out to the sea and beg for someone to identify with what we are saying and break through the isolation.
I hope the day will come when we scrape together the courage to share our creative work with one another. Our voices may be timid at first after so many years of getting used to the silence, but day by day we can learn to practice the courage of expression.
Sometimes it feels terrifying to put our fragile words out into the public where people can rip them (and us) apart. We risk feeling crushed and worthless, and we dredge up opportunities for heartbreak that never existed when we played it safe and kept quiet. But if we don’t share our truth, our recollections of how things happened, our spiritual experiences and heartbreaking losses – who will?
The best thing we can do is just begin. We can start a blog that our friends read. We can ask a family member to look at a poem we secretly wrote, even if we have no intention of ever submitting it for publication. If we aren’t yet ready to share our work but would like to be, we can dip our toes in the water by appreciating the words of someone else and starting a book group.
Let’s not let these gems of beauty die inside of us. Let’s not make our loved ones sift through avalanches of unseen writing someday. Let’s decide to share now.