why i write, why i tell my story
Sometimes, I just want to write. Other times, I just want to read. Sometimes I want to do both.
Other times, I want to do neither. During these times, I still do them anyway because I need them. I need to escape.
Writing allows me to step outside of normal life (whatever the fuck that is), offering me the gift of release from a world that so often feels insane and overwhelming. It gives me the chance to take a break from, or begin to understand, my internal world, too.
It allows me to connect with my pain, with my beauty, with the world’s pain, with the world’s beauty, in my own way.
It gives me somewhere to go when things feel too much, or I can’t handle being in my head any longer. It offers my whirring thoughts a place they can be heard and understood, or simply heard and released.
I write because I feel it. I write because I see or hear the words before they reach the page, and I know they need to be released, spoken. I write because if I don’t, the words churn up inside of me, leaving me sick, anxious, disconnected, lost, frustrated.
Sometimes I write freely, without a full stop or a comma. I write words that don’t exist, I make up sentences that don’t make sense. I allow myself the creativity, the imagination, the silliness, the lack-of-inhibitions, to let rip on the page.
I allow my tender and hurting inner child, my wild raging teen, my angry and dark shadow, my crying and helpless inner victim, to take the reigns and feel completely heard, completely seen, completely free.
I teach my perfectionist to sit back and relax, though this rarely happens — instead she sits and watches, squirming with disgust and terror, as she witnesses the chaos on the page, but this squirming feels healing, too.
I discover and explore my own wilderness and let it become part of the page in front of me, rather than an untouched or un-cherished forest inside of me.
Other times I write because I need to make sense of something — I need to know and understand what’s happening to me, or around me. I need to know that what’s going on is something I can, and do, understand. And if it isn’t, I need to understand that, too.
I need to figure out where I stand, and writing brings me this understanding — I can lay out all the parts of me on the page, and sit back and work out what I truly feel or believe. I tap into my inner healer or the mothering part of me, whilst they hold the space for me to do this.
They witness what I write. Whether I publish what I write, or whether it stays only close to me. I feel seen, witnessed, held, heard and understood. I let their compassion and warmth embrace me, as I figure out what I feel or what I felt, with whatever it is I’m writing about.
I write because freedom needs me to meet it where we both want to stand. I write because often what I write about is things that aren’t spoken of, enough. Through a thousand words on a page, I bring a freedom to myself in my healing, and I bring a freedom to those reading.
The words I write bring permission to those reading — it’s safe to talk, write, say, what’s been writhing around your soul, desperate to be heard, desperate to be felt, desperate to be seen. This freedom and ability was one I never fully knew I had, until I began to write out of a need to feel this, too.
And now the more I write, the more this happens — not just the freedom and healing that come from writing, but also those that come from hearing from those reading.
Hearing experiences people had when they read the words, the stories, I shared, brings solace and release to this pain that I’ve buried for so long. Suddenly I’m not alone, and suddenly I’m less afraid to continue to get to know myself, because I have people responding, “Me too.”
Stories I’ve been afraid of, feelings I’ve been ashamed of, now bring comfort and solace to others, and a connection with myself, now that they’re out of the closet and being spoken.
The more intimately I get to know writing, the more I know I don’t need to be afraid. The more I know that this big white canvas in front of me is one I can get to know myself on, it’s not one I need to run from or hide from, or be intimated by. And sometimes, when I do feel this way, it’s okay.
It’s an empty page that I can treat the way I want the world and myself to treat me — with openness, warmth, compassion, friendliness, understanding, and mutual respect.
Because writing offers me this, when I let it.
I used to think, if I couldn’t talk about something in real life — out loud — then I couldn’t talk about it at all. My critic threw so much shit about how I would never heal, I would never find my voice, I would never feel — or be — heard or understood.
“These stories would stay inside of you until you are old and broken and alone. You’re fucked.”
Now, in all my brokenness and wounding, I can feel united, connected, heard, and understood. I can write and figure out what I want to say, as I do it. I can spill out ten thousand words and go back to edit them to be just a few hundred.
I can let the spillage be seen, or I can share just what I feel safe to share. In moments I’d find speaking or talking hard, I can talk to my page, I can let my inner team have their say.
And when I step back out into reality, I always, always, have a clearer, stronger, more confident voice — I know what I want to say. Words no longer stumble, and when they do, I don’t feel so afraid.
The pieces I write feel like my children. They impregnate in my mind, the moment I see or hear a word, catch a title by the hand, or hear the first sentence. It flows down my arm and onto the page, and I give birth the moment I begin to write.
I watch my child grow the more I release, the more I get to know what it wants to say and what I want to say back. As it matures, I mature with it. Eventually — sometimes when I’m ready, other times when I’m not but I know it’s time to let go — my piece, my written child, flies the nest.
I hand it over to its next home: my blog, an editor, an online submission, or closing the back of my journal.
As I watch it blossom and grow — getting spread on social media, being read and commented on, or by just being online as time goes on as I grow, too — I feel a deep warmth and appreciation. I feel a sense of pride as I watch something I made, impact others — “I wrote that!” I beam.
And when a piece doesn’t get as much recognition as I would have liked, or hoped, or felt it should, I feel sad but I don’t have the sorrow or confidence knock that I used to, because my journey with it was the most important part of the journey.
The second stage — the stage of sharing and others connecting with my experience — is just a beautiful bonus.
As I write, I find my voice.
As I write, I allow myself to bleed free.
As I write, I find my identity.
As I write, I find my soul.
As I write, I find me.
Originally published on Rebelle Society.
creative genius vs. cartoon critic
A few weeks ago, I got a mean ear infection that began to go away but then came back with a vengeance. Within that, I also burst my ear drum.
It’s sucked, and I’ve been completely whacked. I’m still completely whacked.
As someone who’s just been on a roll of creating (writing) and getting noticed, recognized, and seen in ways that have been nourishing my dream of telling the world my story, this whacked-ness has been even harder than normal: within it, I haven’t been able to write as much, or hardly at all.
I haven’t been able to tell the world my story because simply getting through the day fed and rested has been my challenge.
I’ve been writing in my journal, writing to me, in short bursts — five-minute espressos of creativity and release that my brain and body can handle before collapsing back onto my pillow.
Computer screens have felt like the enemy, and the concept of stringing a sentence together that make any sense feels like climbing Everest backwards, blindfolded, on stilts, with no mountain guide. And to create a whole piece that’s readable or sensical? Is that a fucking joke?
I’ve still been creating because I don’t believe we’re ever not creating. When I’m ill, creativity becomes subtler and less obvious. Or less easily notable. Instead of clear-cut, completed, creations — such as creating a piece of writing and sending it off in the day — my creativity becomes lighter and more gentle.
It flutters throughout my day like a leaf in the wind, momentarily landing on things I’m doing, before taking off and fluttering away with my thoughts and energy, until the time comes to do something new, and it lands there with me, again.
Selecting ingredients, and cooking food. Choosing what clothes (pajamas) to put on. Picking, prepping and decocting herbs. Doodling. Thinking. Making my bed. Folding my laundry. It’s all creativity, and it’s all creating; it just doesn’t appear so obvious until I look closely, during times I’m physically whacked.
Being ill in this way, asks for such mindfulness, delicateness, tenderness and gentleness, and I’m increasingly realizing that it asks that of my creative genius, too.
The whole of me needs to take it down a notch, to take it within, slow it down, and figure out how to do things at 1 mph rather than 10 or 20 or 100.
Over the last bunch of recent years, I’ve been trying to learn how to do that with my life due to a complex and confusing journey with health, but I never thought of it in relation to my creative process, my creativity, my relationship with my creative genius.
My desired way of creating a written piece is to type at 100 mph over a few hours, or have my fingers type at 10 mph but my brain whir at 100… and then comes the editing where I go back over a sentence, a paragraph, a hundred times (or sometimes just 10), fiddling and tweaking until my heart says Yes. Between the time a piece is born and the time it steps out into the world, not only do I get a huge release through how incredibly therapeutic it is, but I also feel a healthy sense of exhaustion.
Writing often feels like a wrestling match between me and my words, me and the piece I’m writing. I begin to create, battle through, am high on a mix of love and hate, frustration and desire, and then eventually (an hour later or a few days later) I come out on the other side, sweating and breathless but freer and creatively fitter.
Being so ill, I can’t do this. I don’t have the energy to, and my mind doesn’t have the focus.
I’ve wondered whether I need to let-the-fuck-go and just write, and hit Sendor Publish, but I haven’t.
In the past, I would have, but over this time I’ve felt too raw and tender and unprotected by my inner armor to put a piece out into the world that feels less looked after in its process — less whole — and not feel broken by this. So I haven’t.
I’ve honored this fear and my vulnerability rather than continuing on, regardless. Fuck ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, sometimes tenderness and gentleness is what’s needed. Other times, feeling like a bad-ass motherfucker and stepping through the fear (or kicking it sideways) is what’s needed. I’m learning to know when which option is the one to choose.
I used to have such intense FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but through my journey with health, I’ve learnt to let my FOMO soften. Something that I’ve known for a while, but not wanted to need to face head-on (and I still don’t), is my FONA (Fear of Not Achieving).
One of the most painful and agonizing things about this stint of being ill, is the fact that through not creating as publicly as I have been recently, I’m not getting my voice out there, and being or feeling seen and heard, which was becoming a lifeline in a life that feels incredibly messy, confusing, painful and weird.
By writing and being published and telling the world my story, I didn’t feel as lost. My experiences had a purpose, and my talents were being seen. My dream was coming true. Suddenly this resource hasn’t felt at my fingertips. It’s felt really painful because I long for it, but the funny thing is, it’s only been a few weeks. A few weeks to a 26-year-old still feels like forever.
My heart knows this is temporary, this rest, solely-writing-for-me is healthy, beautiful, and needed, and is okay. To not achieve so frequently is okay, and to allow myself to do this is achieving the best achievement of all: self-love.
My critic, however, has other things to say about the fact I’m not out there,achieving. I’ve felt swamped by his chatter, and he’s the reason this whole scenario has felt all the more painful.
For the last two years, I’ve drawn out my inner critic in cartoons. Seeing him on the page as a cartoon character makes what he’s saying even more ridiculous, and less believable.
I realize he’s a guy who formed in my psyche to protect me from shit that went down when I was a kid, and he’s still lingering, still trying to protect, it’s just this protection ends up backfiring and easily becomes bullying.
Drawing him out in relation to my FOMA connected me with my inner parent — as it always does. As we sat and witnessed my critic’s dialogue spread onto the page, I felt protected and safe in my process, rather than frantic and lost.
The part of me that can protect and nurture me the most — achieving or not achieving, well or unwell, writing or not writing — was the part of me I needed to find, rather than the part of me blowing his critical fog-horn.
Previously published on Rebelle Society.
to create is to say i love you
I have such a fear of being passionate about something. Of being bowled over, deep-veined, heart thumping-in-your-mouth, energy pumping through you, passionate.
Lately, I’ve been feeling that way about writing. I’ve been feeling that way about what I’m currently doing, and the last two weeks I haven’t been writing heaps because life has happened and I’ve been struggling with it’s shit. So I’ve been writing for me, I’ve been writing for my soul and my eyes only, and for the eyes of a few close friends.
Within that—this stepping away and stepping inside myself—has been a realisation of how much I love it. How much I could do it all day and night and let it be the thing that nourishes me and lives inside of me.
Because it already does.
But that terrifies me. I feel so nervous to throw myself into something, even though I already have thrown myself into it. The throwing I’m feeling desperate to do is a throwing that feels different. It’s got a layer of passion that’s new. A layer of passion saying, this is what I want to do.
And when I write that, I feel sick.
To want to do something creative, like this, scares the shit out of me. To want it to be something I motivate myself to do, that I allow myself to learn-the-shit-out-of, and fill myself with inspiration and learnings from outside, and from within, feels really fucking scary. It also feels overwhelming.
Because when I write, I find me. When I write, I write from me. When I write, I allow parts of me to speak that I struggle to allow in ‘real life,’ or they speak in therapy but to speak out of that feels hard. There isn’t the container.
Writing is my container.
But writing is also difficult. There’s no ‘structure’ unless I make one, make it. It takes a fuck-load of motivation to sit through the inner chatter of what I’m supposed to be doing and to sit down in front of my computer or journal instead, and give myself this time to do what?, my critic says. To write? That’s not enough. You can’t just be creative. You need to be doing something proper with your life, otherwise you’ll turn into your parents. You don’t have enough motivation and will-power to be a full-time creative.
But you know what? I don’t want to be a full-time creative. I’ve always known I don’t. I think the passion in me thinks I do and makes me feel like I do, but what I want to do is combine the two—the less creative (I don’t believe anything is non-creative—even nine to five jobs doing accounting are creative) and the creative. I want to combine my love of writing with my love of speaking. I want to talk. I want to give talks that tell my story, that educate, inspire, and inform. I want to change things. And I sort of know I will.
But to get there, I feel afraid.
I feel afraid of this burning, booming, wild energy that flows—floods—through me at the moment. It’s beautiful. But I feel nervous of its presence. Of the level of passion, of the level of fear, of the level of anger, and of the level of clear.
That desire to really get to know something—to get to know writing—and to really allow myself to fall deeply in love, even more than I am already, and fall deep into a love affair. One that continues on from the love affair I’m in now, and picks up even more love along the way.
One that allows me to educate, to inform, to inspire, myself. One that allows me to give myself hours in the day when my critic says, I should be doing something else.
You see, I’ve been doing this.
The last year and a half I’ve been doing this. I’ve been writing every day, loads. But I get these little knock-backs. I get these little times and moments where Life happens and I wonder what the fuck I’m doing. I wonder where it’s all taking me. I wonder whether it really matters that I don’t know where it’s taking me, and that to do is enough. I wonder whether this is okay—to give myself this gift.
I wonder whether I can do it. I wonder whether I can continue.
My heart says, yes, and my head says, no. Or it says, maybe, and why, and how?
When I have a few weeks of not writing more than for myself, like I have been having, it’s almost like starting all over again. It’s not, because it never will be, because when I started was when I was born. But right now it’s like being born back into the life I had a few weeks ago. It’s like being born back into the routine and the process I was in—a process I didn’t step out of but a process I took deep within.
Things feel mighty complex. Like I need to know what I’m doing. Like I’m desperate for answers and I’m desperate to do it right.
I’m desperate to figure out this fear behind my passion, with all my might. But maybe I don’t need to figure it out. Maybe I can let it be here. Maybe I can notice and let it form the foundations on which I grow. Maybe I can witness the part of me who’s scared and let her speak, within it. Maybe I can witness the part of me that’s booming, and the part of me that’s bad-ass, and the part of me that’s glowing from all this growth and creative expression.
Maybe I can be here with it all. Maybe I can have it all.
The fear, the anxious chatter. The joy, the heart-filled laughter. The pain, the crushing agony. The love, the booming pleasure. The desire, the pulling heart. The fire, the raging start. And life with a sense of purpose.
Maybe I can allow myself to be completely nourished by this dream. Maybe I can allow myself to have the time in the day to do this something. This something that’s brought so much healing, so many connections, so much power, and so much time breathing.
I can let my heart say, yes, and I can let my head say, no, and ask the how’s and the why’s. Because I can do it anyway.
I can sit down every morning and write.
I can give myself this gift that my heart and soul and mind, deserves. No matter the resistance, no matter the fear, the creativity is always here and always asking to be born outwards, onto the page, onto whatever piece of paper is there.
Because to create is enough, and to create is to say, I love you.
Originally published on elephant journal.
what will your verse be?
Every morning I wake up and eat and then write.
Most mornings I don’t even get dressed.
I write write write, until about one in the afternoon.
Sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later.
There hasn’t been any intention or purposeful effort in making this routine happen, it’s just happened. My body takes me to where it needs—and I need—to be, every day.
Any morning I try to resist the urge or need, and begin to do something else, I’m discombobulated and lost until I get back in bed with my computer.
That to me, is love.
“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” - Walt Whitman
What will your verse be?
Originally published on elephant journal.