I had a realization yesterday as I dug out the manuscript for the book I’ve been working on for the past year.
Recently, I wrote about my fear of writing. Yesterday, I realized it’s maybe not so much the writing it I fear — I love writing, it consumes me. And that’s the problem. That’s what I fear. Being consumed by the writing.
I have always felt consumed by words. As a young girl, whenever my mother tried to talk to me when I was reading, my response was seldom gracious or kind. It was more along the lines of ‘leave me alone. Can’t you see I’m reading?” (honest. I didn’t know better. I was a teen!)
At school, I’d often spend my recesses walking around the schoolyard reading Ayn Rand’s, The Fountainhead, or Dostoevsky’s, War and Peace. And yes, the contradictions were lost on me at the time!
In my 20s, I started writing my first novel. It was about a 20 something married woman who gets hi-jacked to the cosmos to meet the man of her dreams only to discover, he wasn’t her husband. What to do? What to do?
In the final throes of my marriage, I thought I might be able to save it by writing romance into it. I decided to tackle writing a Harlequin Romance. To finish it, I sent my daughters over to Vancouver Island to their both sets of grandparents for 3 weeks while I house sat a friend’s home at Jericho Beach in Vancouver. I didn’t tell anyone I was in the city. Barely even saw my sister. I was so consumed with finishing that novel I didn’t want to be interrupted.
For three weeks I lived and breathed those characters and their stories. I was in heaven.
Coming up for air I discovered there really wasn’t much of my marriage to save, but I did have a completed manuscript.
And then I did what I’ve often done with completed things. I let it go. It wasn’t easy. Particularly the marriage part… Though I did send the manuscript off to one publisher who liked it and asked for some revisions.
I never did the revisions.
When my daughters were younger they always knew that any time I was sitting at my computer, fingertips flying across the keyboard was not a good time to disturb ‘momma bear’. She might be growly.
And I could be. Growly. Very very growly when interrupted.
And that’s what I’ve discovered. It’s not the writing it. It’s the being consumed by it.
Which begs the question… so what? Why are you letting fear dictate your actions Louise?
Hmmm…. good question. I do not want to be driven by fear. I want to be drawn by courage to do the things I love.
And I love writing. and I love the stories of the people I’ve met on the ‘other side’ of the street. Those incredibly complex, heart-driven, sensitive souls to whom life has given lessons that transcend the commonplace into that space where miracles happen — everyday.
See, one of the things I really felt working at a shelter is that it truly was a miracle that everyday, a thousand people woke up and took another step. They had lives most of us can’t imagine. Experienced things most of us could not endure. And yet, there they were, every morning, getting up and walking on.
It was, and is, a testament to the power of the human spirit and our collective will to live, to ascend hardship and pain and suffering, to cling to this fragile thread of humanity that holds us with a strength greater than even that of gravity’s capacity to keep us standing up.
As I write I realize — this has been my ennui. This has been the fissure of unease that has been quietly seeping through my being present to the wonder and joy of life. I am not writing the stories that move me. I am not sharing the awe and wonder I found working at a homeless shelter.
When I know better, I do better.
I have been the master of my own discord. I have been the keeper of my joy.
Yesterday, my eldest daughter called me and said, “Get over yourself mom. Your stories are amazing. People need to hear them. Stop stalling.”
I thank her. Because in her words I am reminded — To inspire my daughters to live their lives on the outside of their comfort zones, I need to be living mine fearlessly, passionately in Love on the other side of playing it safe.
Time to unleash myself. Time to set myself free. Time to let go and shine.