“…if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself.” (Ray Bradbury)
In the years before I started this blog, I wrote facebook notes. I would sit down in a storm of emotions, crank out an 800-ish word piece of poetic unstructured writing, and post it on facebook.
My audience was tiny — solely composed of close friends and family. None of my facebook notes were planned in advance. My writing process was simple: the words would gush forth, I would post them to facebook, and I would bask in the couple of comments that my mom and grandma would leave for me afterwards.
I didn’t flutter in the corner, panicking about what anyone would think. I just wrote little impassioned love letters to the people who already loved me – the real me, the in-person me. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone.
And my writing felt real. And my writing felt GOOD. And my writing felt like… me.
* * *
Then I started a blog, filled with love and hope and possibility.
My blog became popular quickly, and I was no longer just writing for family & friends. Every time I sat down to write a blog post, I knew that hundreds of people around the world would see it.
My people-pleasing instincts gripped me. My focus transformed from What’s on my heart? to What do my readers want to hear about? What are people expecting me to say? (No one was actually expecting me to say anything. It was all in my head – fantastical weavings of my own self-doubt.)
Then I wrote and published my first book (Robot Coconut Trees), a self-help book about creative writing. I poured my entire spirit into that book, and immediately after publishing it… my writing heart fell silent.
I wrote less, I meandered more, and I wondered if my book and blog had all just been a fun, temporary experiment – a bridge to “get the writing bug out of me” so I could move onto other life adventures.
* * *
What do you do when your passions don’t feel fun anymore? What do you do when your work from the past rings at you like an echo of ancient history, reminding you of how far you’ve strayed from your holy melty heart?
First you get really, really confused.
Then you mourn the past versions of you – the You’s that were so devoted and beautiful, the You’s that carried your sparks of passion into the world.
Then you surrender. You acknowledge that your next steps may look nothing like your past steps, that a Life well-lived rarely moves in an orderly linear direction.
You shed some skin. You take a deep breath. You honor this in-between space. You reluctantly admit that that you don’t know where you are going.
And then you make your comeback.
* * *
Your comeback doesn’t have to be pretty. You begin slowly. You begin falteringly. You wipe the slate clean and leave yellow chalk remnants behind. You start scribbling nonsense on top of that yellow murky chalk cloud, scratching towards a future that you can’t yet see.
You get clear on the feelings that you want to feel. You follow the breadcrumbs. You drop your knife from your own throat. You remind yourself 1000 times a day that you are a whole + complex + fascinating person – whether or not you ever circle back to your original passions.
You don’t need to know your Next Big Thing – but you do need to stay in motion. You take the smallest, most microscopic step you can handle, even if it propels you in a direction that makes no sense. You embrace the whimsy. You tune into your hidden wild heart.
You learn a new language. You walk aimlessly for four miles. You buy a book about a random subject that you were always faintly curious about. You say “yes” to more invitations that pull you from your ennui. You offer invitations to others, even if the thought makes you tremble with discomfort.
You leave your phone at home. You resist the urge to numb out in other people’s lives. You tune back into your own voice.
You let those breadcrumbs lead you to a space of mental clarity. You stop trying to find a utilitarian purpose to every waking moment, and you groggily remember that to be Alive at all is a gratitude and a mystery worth cherishing.
May your blog be a love letter. May your life be a love letter. May you forge your own trail, may you get caught up in self-consciousness, and may you circle back to the You that we always loved the most. The You that we loved before you started trying to impress everyone.
May you make bold choices. May you notice every wild miracles. May you come to us raw and empty of pretense, ready to face this Life again.
It’s good to be home.
Love & Freedom & Uncharted Evolution,