Tuesday, February 22, 2011

That threshold into the world of writing

I remember writing as a child, curled up on my bed with a notebook and a number 2 pencil.  Words spilled on to the page, ideas built out of my little constructor set in my brain, and placed with satisfaction on each line.  It never occurred to me then to judge the work as it was being done.  It never occurred to me that my work might suck.  It was a passionate pursuit of exploration into myself, a fresh new world to explore and paint and mold into something fun, bold, intriguing, sad, insane or whatever else my soul fancied at that moment.  It was sheer and utter pleasure.  And when I handed those writings into my creative writing teacher, without a care if it was "good", I wasn't particularly moved one way or the other when I received an "A".  It was of no consequence.  It was not meant for them, it was meant for me.  And I was fulfilled, so it seemed natural in my young mind that my teacher would also be so.

Years later, I look back with longing at that person I was.  How I so naturally expressed myself without concern.  How easily I tuned into that inner storyteller, drank from that endless well of creativity, made beauty for no one but myself on endless pages of looseleaf.  Now, it is a struggle.  Now, it is a spiritual version of an  MMA cage fight where I am both opponents.  My own worst enemy.  Writing was abandoned for a lucrative career.  So in one corner is the writer, the passionate writer who was silenced.  And in the other corner is the career professional that brings home a paycheck.  The professional hasn't really looked at that artist as much of a fighter for quite some time.  But that has been changing.  The artist in me has caught a second wind, perhaps in retaliation for a the mid-life crisis that tends to hit all of us that have not lead a life of passion. The professional in me still fights for the upper hand thinking the creative writer unable to win.

But am I (the writer) not a worthy opponent?  The villain professional must think I have something worth saying or it wouldn't fight so viciously to keep me away from that pen, away from that story?  What could I now create, if time were not limited by a punch-clock, due dates, bosses, household chores, etc?  I honestly don't know.  But I ache to find out.  After surrendering my pen so many years ago, and living life without it, have I not learned of life's tragedy and triumph?  Do I not still have that inner well that wants to be consumed?  What fear inside me makes me think that I am not worthy of this thing called self expression?  Rejection?  Ridicule? Most definitely.  But in the end, a silenced pen is only going to result in self-ridicule. Self-hatred.

I have changed myself a thousand time over.  Dropping those things once dear and turning a new leaf.  I have never done so with longing for the old me, except for my writing.  Never, not once, have I felt I lost something because of my change of heart, and new pursuits, and new views, except for my writing.  I must accept this.  And find a way to push beyond the ideas that I am largely unread, uneducated, and unworthy of literary appreciation.  If I am ever going to find personal fulfillment, it won't be in the depths of self-doubt, but in that which is within me, like a dog struggling on a choke chain to be free, that craves to write with a passion that seems to have crippled me.

I can only hope that coming full circle and finding the writer within me once again, that I might see that I am, always was, whole and worthy, just as I am, just as I was.  That the stories are there.  That the words are still there.  That it is not too late.  That I can be who I would be if only.  It only takes that first step, pen to paper, a word, a sentence, an idea, a passage.  An introduction.  A page.  A movement.  A belief.  A belief in me.