Monday, August 3, 2015

On Writing

I was grateful this weekend that two things happened - my husband took all of our children on a Boy Scouts camping trip and I was invited to participate in a writing circle.

On the night that I was left alone, I found myself eating sushi on the couch watching a horrible movie and then baking in the kitchen listening to music.

I was contemplating everything and ruminating on what the next day would look like.

As it turned out, I walked into an amazing space, placed my breakfast contribution on the counter, poured cream into my hot cup of coffee and noticed this sign:

"Writing is hard for every last one of us...
Coal mining is harder.
Do you think miners
stand around all day
talking about how hard it is to mine
for coal.
They do not...they simply
Cheryl Strayed

Finding my place in the circle, taking it all in, I realized that the only overt thing we all had in common is that we are women.  Otherwise, as I later learned, some are wives, mothers, agency directors, corporate gurus, older, younger...all hopeful for a fire to be lit, inspiration to emerge, truth to be told and a formal opportunity to re-engage with the written word through collective wisdom.

Our facilitator began the session by asking us to take some time to describe what the following words look like:


After we spent time writing about what something like hate tastes like, we went back to our writing and circled phrases, words and images that best captured the intent or feeling behind the word and then, as quickly as we could harvest the images into a disjointed poem of sorts to read aloud.

Shaking because my words and more importantly the combination of them felt so sophomoric and weak, I decided to raise my hand and get it over with...I wanted to get me out in the open right away.

Here I sit
the gig is up
and I know it
because the metallic taste of
old coffee and cigarette ashes
never leaves, constantly churning
screaming at the sky, wanting to
shake him or me or
desperate to create something new from the
old, begging don't
leave--but I'm so cold
throw me a blanket
and elevate me to a place
where I can
breathe again.

After everyone who wanted to share did...we entered into a private 30 minute writing exercise where we independently wrote a piece on the one word that we have longed to retire and the one word we have longed to embrace.

In every way, it was exactly what I needed.  I felt free and validated and irreverent and really, more me than I've experienced in sometime.  And the beauty was that I just got the chance to write.  I didn't have to fret over where to start, I was given prompts that were meaningful and a space that buzzed with collective creativity and hope.

I like the image of the coal miner digging.  Writing like running or mothering or wifing or friending or laundrying or fill in any blank you like is simply making the choice to do it, until one day, you stumble upon something that wasn't there before...a diamond in the rough that makes all the labor worth it.

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