My Writing Journey

For years people have told me to write and perhaps for even longer than that I have wanted to write. I even endeavoured to do just that; quite dramatically shipping myself off to Tiffendale for a skiing adventure. Sitting on the deck with my laptop open, surrounded by the glare of the snow and telling anyone who asked; that I am a writer. Years later, I found myself in this lovingly restored hotel in the south of Mozambique where I had checked in for 8 days and where the staff had collectively decided that I had definitely come to write the next great novel. The manager had told me this on the day I checked out. Secretly, that had been my intention, but instead I spent my days avoiding my laptop and lounging by the pool. Over the years there has been writing course after writing course; signed up for many a free writing class and even spent two years with a local writing group hosted by an extremely creative writer. Still no real writing, or even anything published (with the obvious exception of my own blog) in all of this time.

This year, 2022, I decided to cancel all extramural activities and focus instead on finally uncovering my gifts. Writing being one of them. I have been obsessed with books from as early as I can remember; and those of you who know me really well; my childhood memories are practically non-existent from birth until the day my dad died. For whatever reason the distinct memory of the Andy Capp comic books my paternal gran had in the bookshelf behind their front door; the ‘book’ I wrote when I was around 15 or 16 and the essay I wrote for English class that got dismissed by the teacher and for which I complained to the guidance counsellor, remained. A little perspective, if you will, I was not exactly very courageous as a teenager. Rather, when an authority figure dished out instructions, I asked how soon they would like them followed through. So making the complaint tells me just how important writing was to me. The local writing group also brought to the surface for me many a fear. We had been instructed to read a piece out loud and the reasoning for this is that when you hear your own writing spoken aloud, you hear it differently and that in turn assists with the editing process. I was convinced everyone sitting across from me would laugh their collective heads off at my ridiculous piece. I moved on to the advanced group where eventually we had to present the story board to our novel. I collapsed into a heap and told the facilitator that there was no way I could present. I wasn’t even certain anymore that a book was in me and anyway who was I to think that I could write?

After calming down and with the loving guidance of my husband I was able to understand that the reason I had felt so overwhelmed was because I had put so much pressure on myself to succeed in writing this book. I had been retrenched in 2018 and hadn’t had a job to go to since, so the book was going to be my way of contributing financially to our household and take some of the responsibility off my husband as our sole breadwinner. Additional pressure I had put on myself was reading a story about this incredible poet, whose name escapes me, who told the story of how when she was out in the fields, she heard the words coming and would have to run madly into the house, grab a pencil and paper and as fast as she could write down the words before they disappeared on the wind. Ayn Rand knew at the age of nine that she was going to be a writer and she wrote some powerful stuff in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. As for me, I beat myself up because I was already 48 and hadn’t done much of anything with my writing. To say the least, I was terribly jealous of these incredible women. Instead of keeping them in my head as wonderful role models to aspire to, I kept them in my head as writers I would measure my writing against.

A year ago I read Gabby Bernsteins book Super Attractor and what I was doing she explains like this:

“When we compare ourselves to others, we lean into the lack mentality and the feeling that there is not enough love (anything really) in the Universe to support us all.”

These women and their stories were never meant to be a benchmark against which to measure myself, they are the giants upon whose shoulders I can stand when I write, who I can ask to guide me when I sit down in front of my laptop and whose courage I can tap into when my fear kicks in. The way their writing unfolded for them is their journey, no one has ever seen through my eyes; heard through my ears or had the thoughts I have before. My journey is my own and when I get that nagging voice in my head telling me this is the story that must be written today, my job is to show up and allow the words to flow through me; because quite frankly the blog I thought I was going to write today is definitely not the piece that you are now reading.

Lastly, when I was in such a state thinking I couldn’t present my story board to the advanced writers, it wasn’t because I couldn’t do it. It was because I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, trying to micromanage how I was going to make my writing dreams come true and limiting the magic of life’s spontaneity. This event felt like a major setback, frustrating and as if life was pitted against me instead of for me. Better to have faith that the unbounded, unlimited and ever generous Source of all that is definitely knows the quickest route, the shortest distance and can easily build the bridge that spans the gap of where I am currently to the book I have always felt rattling around in my soul.

No more hiding behind the incredible creativity of these amazing giants, instead I can stand upon their shoulders and rise to my little place in the sun.

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