I am the only one who can tell the story of my life
and say what it means. ~ Dorothy Allison
Dorothy Allison is right, of course.
This is why you write, yes?
Yes, you write. You journal. You type. You blog. You are a poet, a memoirist, a novelist, a doodler, a Bullet Journal® aficionado. Your hard-drive has a folder named “Writing” that holds more content than you remember creating. You’ve been doing this for years. You just started (again). You use lined paper. You use a leather-bound, blank-page journal. You use MSWord — 1” margins, full-justified, double-spaced. You write in the margins. You always use the same font. You never use the same font. You have a favorite pen. You have a ritual. You wish you had a ritual. You write every day — same time, same chair, same steaming mug of coffee. You write when you feel like it — different times, different days, wherever and whenever the mood strikes. You love words. You love your Thesaurus. You’ve read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird at least twice, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones is definitely on your shelf, and you keep meaning to get to On Writing by Stephen King. You can’t imagine not writing. You can’t understand why you don’t do it more, better, consistently, always.
Maybe you can say it: I am a writer.
Maybe you just wish it: I want to be a writer.
For sure, this: I write.
Me too. (All of the above.)
Your motivation for writing, your particular “why” is distinct and unique to you, but tell me if I’m close on these two points:
1) You write, first and foremost, for yourself.
Always for you. Your brilliant thoughts (and those that are less-so, but no less needing to be expressed). Your heart. Your emotions. Your fears. Your frustrations. Your secrets.
What you are mulling, chewing, aching-over, wondering, deciding, desiring. Your fabulous ideas. Your deepest beliefs. Those endless doubts. The pages and pages you will burn before you’ll reveal. Your change-the-world-if-only-others-were-listening stuff.
This IS SacredWriting — because you are imbuing it with meaning, because it connects you to something bigger/larger/deeper, because it has a ritual and rhythm that soothes and strengthens.
2) You really want to write for others.
You trust-know-believe-hope you have something to say, something to offer, something to give, something you know in a particular and powerful way, so much that you want to convey.
The form (or platform) might evade. The manuscript, the proposal, the self-confidence, the agent are yet to evolve. But still…this has to happen, right? You WANT your words, your thoughts, your heart conveyed. You want to be heard. You want to be seen. Really. Truly. For the brilliant light you are. And even though you wonder sometimes, you mostly believe that no one else can say what you can, see what you can, feel what you can, write what you can. Right.
This IS SacredWriting — because you see, recognize, and long to honor the meaning within your own words, thoughts, ideas, and heart, because you are expressing something that is bigger/larger/deeper, because you know that it will soothe and strengthen others.
Sometimes I’ve wondered if I need more accountability, a deadline, something or someone pushing me from behind or pulling me from ahead to keep me going. Other times (most times, frankly) I have resisted every such thing because it makes me mad and cranky and completely unmotivated!
What I need, what we all need, is support, a safe space, the presence of consistent-and-kind encouragement and accountability, a reader who hears, sees, and cares — deeply.
- Knowing, with surety and certainty, that your writing (even the most private and personal stuff) can be heard, held, and honored.
- A place in which you can allow it to be read — knowing it is safe, confidential, and profoundly respected, that you are.
- Feedback — not on your technique or syntax or grammar (necessarily), but on what is actually said — and not said, what is on the lines and between them.
- Your inner dialogue, yes, but heard vs. just the ever-spinning hamster wheel within your own brain.
- Telling your stories — especially the ones that have you questioning, doubting, hurting, afraid — and feeling completely understood.
- And then (if all this weren’t enough) hearing from your reader (me) in a way that will invite you to explore even more, write even more, go even deeper — in your writing, yes; in your very life.
This is what I do. This is what I offer. This is what I invite.
Your writing deserves this. Your story deserves this. You deserve this.
Let’s do this…
There are so many more details, so many more things I want to say about all of this. I’ve written all that and then some here. But by way of conclusion (for this post, at least), these “final” words:
A dear friend recently asked me: “What makes something sacred, Ronna?” I paused and then, without much thought, said this:
Sacred is something we imbue with meaning above and beyond its practical or assumed value or worth.
Sacred is anything/anyone that connects us with something larger than ourselves.
Sacred is ritual and rhythm that grounds us, that makes a particular experience distinctive and set apart.
All three of these things already apply to your writing, yes? That’s why I know it IS SacredWriting. And that’s why I would love to read it, offer you my seeing, my hearing, my heart, and strengthen yours. May it be so.