I’ve been in the throws of a creative trip for the past two weeks, one that took me away from my home, my husband, and my regular routine. I’ve been up into the wee hours of the morning, surrounded by creative people and business people, technicians and office workers, trying my best to tap into the source of my creativity — the Awen — and to discover how to give my voice a place to live in the world.
In addition to the late night work, I’ve been using NaNoWriMo to speed up the process of writing my book. Currently, I’m about 5,000 words behind.
Oh – I’m taking a correspondence class though Cherry Hill Seminary.
I’m strapped. A little crazy, perhaps, for taking on so much in one month. Do I feel worn out? Yes – it feels that way sometimes. More than once in the past week I’ve sat in front of my blank computer screen, juggling in my mind the perspectives of a blogger, an author, a lyricist and a businessman, and I’ve wondered —
Why do I do this? Why do I write?
Star Foster posted a moving essay on the Patheos Pagan Portal today which asks the same question. From her perspective, as a staff writer and editor for Patheos.com, and as a respected voice in the Pagan community, writing has become somewhat of a burden, and she’s having a hard time remembering the way it feels to write from the heart; to write without fear of judgment.
For a blogger, writing is not simply expressing your ideas and opinions; it’s engaging the entire world in a conversation. And if you’ve spent any time reading through the comments of blogs across the web, you know that people can be pretty insensitive in comment threads. They engage with the text as though there isn’t a person standing behind it, and their criticisms can hurt. Sometimes they miss the text altogether and go straight for the writer, which hurts even more.
I’ve been fortunate on my blog, and have been spared much of the vitriol that exists out there in hyperspace. The comments from my readership have been, by and large, enriching and not destructive.
But the bigger issue at hand is not the way a blogger engages with their audience; it is how the writer engages with her heart, her mind and her life.
More Than The Sum Of Her Words
“I write because I have a religious impulse to do so. Everyone has their own gift, and unfortunately this is the only one I have. Writing is all I’ve got to give. I am not a brilliant teacher, nor a gifted ritualist. I’m not an inspiring and dedicated activist. I’m not a wise elder, nor even a good student. I’m no enchanting musician, talented visual artist or helpful mentor. I’m not even a supportive lover, or raising up the next generation of Pagans. I’m someone who chews through words and ideas, who worries a concept until it makes sense to her and whose tool is the written word. In the larger picture, it’s not a very useful gift.“
To the bolded text I say — hooey.
Star’s gift is a tremendous gift. To write is no small thing. To write is to help facilitate others to think. It is to draw connections between seemingly disparate ideas, and to show the ways in which the world, with all of its tragedies and sorrows, is undeniably magical. Writing can be, as I feel it is for me at times, a form of ministry (and you read here about what that word means to me).
To write about a spiritual life is especially valuable, and this is where Star’s work is connected to something truly great. Star, and all those blogging on matters of the heart, the spirit, the powerful invisible force that connects me to you, you to me, us to the dirt and the sky and the water, we’re preparing each other for moments of transformation. We’re preparing each other for living with deep presence, deep awareness, and a willingness to be authentic. This is big work. This is meaningful.
This is what Star does. This is what I seek to do. This is why I write. I write because I am alive, and because I believe that life is a mystery, and an explosion, and a song. I understand Star’s “religious impulse,” because I share it. It is scary and overwhelming at times, but it serves a real purpose.
To All The Stars Out There
Writers write about what they know — the good ones, at least — and if you’re a writer who has discovered that her well is running dry, then you need to dig another well! You need to get out there and live some.
Cultivate the parts of yourself that are less than brilliant. Polish them. Sit with them. Then, write about that experience. Be flawed, and write about it. Be funny, and write about it. Be willing to take risk of living a full, bold, bright pink life, and write about it.
Let your religious impulse to write be transformed into a religious impulse to live.
I strongly encourage you to read Star’s post in full. Then, feel free to share it, as well as this post, with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Then, do some writing of your own.