listening to your heart; birthing dreams
Once upon a time,
I wanted to be a writer. I don’t know where this dream came from exactly; it’s been with me since I was young. Since the time when I believed I could do anything. It’s strange now to recall the un-self-conscious confidence I had then, because it’s so foreign to my adult self. My child self though— she had that mix of non-attachment and self-assurance I would pay good money to get back.
One memory in particular stands out- it’s third grade and the winner of month four of the monthly story-writing contest is about to be announced. At this point, Rachel Wilson was on a three-month winning streak. Yet when the name was announced, it was my name that was called, not Rachel’s. Walking up to the front of the classroom to fetch my trophy, I knew with certainty- still know to this day- that I won the contest that month because the teacher simply couldn’t keep giving it to Rachel. I knew I wasn’t the best writer in the class, but it didn’t occur to me to think this meant I wasn’t a writer.
All the way through school, I wrote like a girl possessed. Like my life depended on it.
And then, at 19, on the advice of my English professor, I sent some of my poems to poetry journals. I received form letter rejections from each. I put away my notebooks and changed my major to psychology. I wonder now, what happened in the interim between my 8 year old self who was comfortable with the idea of failure and my 19 year old self who took rejection as confirmation of her worst fears about herself?
At 29, my desire to write asserted itself again. I formed a mini-writing group with a friend, read books on memoir-writing. I wrote three essays and and a handful of poems and kept them mostly to myself. At 32, I applied to one nonfiction MFA program, was rejected, and once more stopped writing.
Dreams are strangely tenacious though.
At 40, feeling again the terrible yearning to write, I started a blog. I hired a coach to help me work through the paralyzing blocks I have about writing. It was painful and uncomfortable and after a while of this, I turned my focus to developing my voice through visual art, which is what I have done for the last three years.
This summer, my eyes began to linger on the writing books on my shelf, on Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind in particular. By this point, I’d again become so detached from my desire to write that I puzzled over why I, an artist, would have such a collection of books on writing. I chalked it up to impulse buys on amazon.com and I managed to believe this for several weeks. My eyes would come to rest on a particular book on my shelf and my heart would tug and I would push the discomfort out of my awareness.
But trying to ignore the bodily sensations of longing and trying to convince myself I didn’t want what I wanted- I’ve been down that road so many times before. And it’s never once worked out for me. I am tentatively acknowledging a desire to write. I am strangely thankful for how my fear of writing pushed me to discover a talent for visual art, for drawing and painting, that I didn’t know I had. I am putting my pen to paper every morning, not just in my journal but in notebooks as well- writing with the purpose of eventually beginning to share my writing. I’ve hatched an idea for a book of essays to accompany paintings in my Origin Stories series.
What about you? What songs are stirring in your heart these days? What's the brave thing you'd do if you took a leap of desire? Let me know below and I'll be cheering you on.