“strange how we forget,
how well we hide whatever is in us,” – from “Blood” by Julia Kasdorf
Too much of the time I hold back. I pull myself in and constrain my thoughts, my emotions, my words. I don’t want to let part of my “real” self seep out because I’m afraid – afraid of being judged, afraid of being ignored, afraid of giving away too much, afraid of being depleted. But I don’t like to live by fear.
Yesterday, I read a very interesting blog post about how talking too much can really hurt our writing. While I agreed with the author that we can eek out our stories in harmful ways by hinting at what we’re saying or spending too much time talking about what we’re doing rather than doing it, at heart, I really disagreed with her. This means I also disagree with Ted Gup, one of my writing mentors, and I don’t love that. But the truth, as I see it, is that if we hoard our stories, our ideas, our feelings, our experiences, if we tuck them away, afraid that if we give them away too soon or too often we will deplete their energy, we will in fact do just that. These precious gifts will become dusty, wizened pebbles that no longer shimmer with energy. (Of course, Annie Dillard has influenced by thoughts on this a great deal.)
There is a place and time to keep something precious close to our hearts, to let it germinate and grow, to let it build within us like a fireball. This is something we do when we have an idea just coming to life, when we feel it spinning and living inside us, when it is not yet formed and still gathering strength into itself. At these moments, we keep our stories and our experiences close, and then, they fuel us.
But to keep that idea hidden and tucked away because of fear – that someone will steal the idea, that we will deplete the energy of the story, that it will fall flat, that we will give away our best stuff and never have more to give – that I think is a mistake. As writers (and as people, too), we are built to share. We are made to be in relationship with one another. There is a powerful energy, too, that comes in that liminal space between writer and reader – that invisible breath of time and air where, like a synapse firing, all the important stuff happens. As writers, we need that spark of energy, and we can only get it by laying what we have out there and seeing who receives the charge on the other end.
So do keep your stories and your memoirs coddled within you while they grow and spin into great arcs of light, but when it’s time to let them go, open your mouth and let them pour forth, great shocks of light and truth for us to absorb.
Photo Credit – http://www.cosmodaddy.com/tag/river-song/