I’m giving up writing. Just kidding!
Okay, it’s no surprise to anyone that I love to write and no, I’m not stopping anytime soon.
And here’s why (they’re Ray Bradbury’s words, but only because he said them first! Or maybe I did, but he took the credit. So I’ll stick with his story so he doesn’t sue me):
“You must stay drunk on writing
so that reality cannot destroy you!”
I am one of the lucky ones who discovered not the frivolity, but the necessity of writing in a journal right from the get-go, because I truly did think that reality might destroy me. As a child, writing in my diary gave me an outlet. It provided me with a safe place to lay my head down on the page with my words. That’s how it felt as an 11-year-old whose voice was silenced, and I came to learn that my voice on the page eventually became my voice in the world. It led me to be who I am today—because I could be true to myself. I didn’t have to please anyone on the page, just say it the way it feels and let it go . . .
Journalling nurtures me when I am afraid. It lets me say anything I want and as many times as I want and it doesn’t get mad and say things, like, “Stop boring me, do you know how many times you’ve told that story? It’s just a story!”
Seriously? Just a Story?
I was at a restaurant the other day and while waiting to be served, I heard part of a conversation at the next table. It went something like this:
Him: “Jodi, get serious; you’re not going to tell them that, are you?”
Her: “Well, why not? It’s the truth.”
Him: “Seriously, what’s the truth anyway? It’s only a story!”
Her: “But it’s my story. Don’t you think that’s important?”
The waiter came to take my order. I couldn’t continue to eavesdrop, darn! But it sure got me thinking: Aren’t we all telling stories all the time? I’ll bet that as soon as Jodi said she was going to tell her story, her friend was running a story in his own head that might have gone something like: “Oh, no. I’m trying to warn her. Can’t she see the trouble it’s going to get her into? Even if it is the truth, why be that honest?” At the same time, she could be running a story such as, “Why can’t he ever support me?” And aren’t I making up a story as well? Of course I am! How could I possibly know what was going through their heads, but there I was creating a story anyhow.
Don’t we all do that? And some of us love to write them down (maybe not the stories of the people at the next table!). But then again, isn’t that what good fiction is all about? Extracting it from real life and then adding our own take?
The Chicken and the Egg
As far back as I can remember, I have been curious about people’s stories, and for over two decades I have been helping people write their own. Maybe this is a story about the chicken and the egg. Is it because I needed to write that I got interested in people’s stories? Or is it because of people’s stories—including the ones in my family that I wasn’t supposed to tell—that got me interested writing? Or is it simply my nature to be curious?
So, yes, it’s true that I started writing as a young girl, but you may not know what inspired me to offer writing classes at the same time I became a psychotherapist. This is a fun story! It started when I read a book that had me captivated because I related to everything the author was saying. So much so that it could have been me saying the very same things. It was one of those aha moments that you can’t ignore.
A Turning Point
Some days later, I went to see my psychiatrist. He was smart, kind, forthright, and a down to earth, cool guy (they should have cloned him). He was also a bit quirky, which I liked. He doodled mandalas while listening to me. Perhaps it helped him listen better. Who knows, but those mandalas were the best I’ve ever seen. I could hardly wait to tell him what I had been thinking about!
Me: “I just read this great book about writing and I believe I can teach writing courses.”
Him: “Hmm. Which book?”
Me: “It’s by Natalie Goldberg and it’s called Writing Down the Bones.
Him: “So, what makes you think you can suddenly start teaching writing courses?”
Me: “Because she writes the same way I do and teaches a method I have naturally used all my life but couldn’t have named it until now.”
Him: “Have you ever done that before? Do you have credentials?”
Me: (Starting to shrivel) “Um, No.”
Him: “Don’t you think that would take one hell of a lot of chutzpah?”
Me: (Stopped breathing. Code blue alert! Desperate for his approval. Final dying words.) “Yeah, I guess so. It was a stupid idea.”
Him: (With a wink and a big smile) “Why would you say it was stupid? If you feel that strongly about it, then you must do it! When do you plan to start?”
Me: (Catching my breath, jumping up to kiss him. Okay, maybe not, but I could have.) “Thank you! Thank you!” (In my mind: smooch, smooch. Also in my mind: “Your sense of humour almost killed me, doc!”)
From that day to this one, assisting people to find confidence in their writing voice is one of my greatest passions! Sometimes, we do need someone else to put a positive mirror in front of our face in order for us to say YES! to ourselves!
What’s Your Story?
What are you doing today that you are passionate about? What got you started? There must be a wonderful story to tell about that. Maybe you can share it with your family tonight around the dinner table. Or with a friend over coffee. Or write about it from where you are today. What circumstances did life put in front of you so that it aligned with your values and your truth?
Or, is there something that you used to be passionate about years ago but you left it behind somewhere? Every now and again does the memory of it surface, and if it could talk, might it be saying, “Hey, what about me? Where did you go? Come back!” And your tummy aches a bit and your heart hurts because you let it go.
It’s never too late! Opportunities are vast. Just open yourself up to be living the life you love and start living that right now. Don’t wait for a life purpose to show up. Your path is already here. You are on a path. In other words, do the things you love to do and be the person you want to be now.
Become the innocent child, ready to explore life with brand new eyes. Get up each morning saying “Thank you for a brand new day” and open yourself to the possibility of beautiful things to unfold.
And remember, you are awesome! You are unique. You have so much to offer. So pull out the stops. Be bold and say “Yes” to Life!
And if I were sitting across from you right now, I’d be emulating that shrink from so many years ago. I’d be doodling Mandalas and telling you to GO FOR IT!
Today I am saying YES to myself and that means . . .
As always, please leave a comment below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join the conversation.