You should listen to what people say. Take in what they say. (Don’t build a steel box around yourself.) Then make your own decision. It’s your poem and your voice. There are no clear-cut rules; it is a relationship with yourself. What is it you wanted to say? What do you want to expose about yourself? Being naked in a piece is a loss of control. This is good. We’re not in control anyway. People see you are you are. Sometimes we expose ourselves before we understand what we have done. That’s hard, but even more painful is to freeze up and expose nothing. Plus freezing up makes for terrible writing. – Natalie Goldberg
That fissure, that crack that runs along my spine and that I hide so well with lists of degrees and publications. That I tuck back in my teaching and “experience” voice. The space where I am broken wide and scared and vulnerable. That’s where good words emerge.
That’s also where the rejections – “I don’t think I can sell this book to a major publisher.” “Not for me. Thanks.” – zing in like arrows. It’s no wonder I want to curl around myself. An armadillo of cliches and easy answers.
Yet, it is only when I am splayed open – shavasana full – that the truth comes. All the truth.
The “writing is so hard, but I don’t think it should be because I don’t have to stand on my feet at a check-out line all day and I don’t have to enter a coal mine or lose sleep because my wife or child has had a feeding tube in her throat all night” truth.
The “so frustrated by people who garner followers by dispensing others’ wisdom as their own in bite-size bits that are digested so easily that they are both lost and lies” truth.
The “terrified that all this is a facade and that someone will know – my students will know – that I am just a poseur, trying hard but not sure of my of anything” truth.
The “quiet voice of matter, the voice that speaks of practice and repetition, of calling and conversation on bent knees as a I clean the litter box, the Brother Lawrence reminders whispered” truth.
I have learned – and relearn day after day after day after day – that being wide open means all those voices come rushing forth and that the best words, the best me comes when I let them pour out and rush away in torrents of venom. For when I hold them back, I am holding them close . . . and they are always going to be louder than that whisper. Always louder, so I let them zoom away.
And I lay there, hands up, hips wide, and I listen . . . a breath of goodness the reminder. “Just write, Andi. Just write.”
How do you learn to listen to the true whisper?
For the remainder of today, my next set of online writing workshops is 20% (a savings of $50.) So if you’ve been considering a class, I hope you’ll consider mine. We talk about writing models, discuss effective critique, and practice on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (depending on your schedule). More information is available here. Thanks for taking a look.
Also, my book God’s Whisper Manifesto is free for the next couple of days. Pick up a copy if you’d like. Thanks for that, too.