There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying. – Sarah Dessen
Perhaps the best writing advice I ever received was from Ted Gup when he said, “Don’t talk about what you’re writing. Talking about it gives away its energy,” or something to that effect. His words reminded me of the verses in Matthew that talk about praying behind closed doors, in secret.
Power rests in the unspoken. Or as I’m thinking of it at this moment, when social media is so prevalent in my life – power rests in the unshared.
Sharing is supposed to be a generous act, one done for another. But social media has co-opted that word, taken it to be about “platform” and that ego-based form of confidence boosting. That’s sad.
Still, for an introvert like me, social media is a great gift. It allows me to interact with people in meaningful ways without draining me quite so much of the energy required in face to face gatherings, where facial expressions, body language, and social nuance command my attention as much as words and ideas. But social media has also taken away many of my secrets. . . not scandals or shames – I try to get those out into the world where the light can burn away the ugly – but secrets, things I need to hold close – at least for a time – before I put them into the light.
Of late, my mind keeps resting on this image a glowing orb – orange, bright, warm – that I tuck under the folds of my vest, where it disappears beneath my ribs. That’s the kind of secret I’m talking about – the ones that need to become more of who I am before I open my ribcage to the world.
Many of my friends are doing social media fasts for Lent – stepping away altogether or for certain times of the week or on certain devices – and I commend them for that act. But it’s not one I feel led to take. Instead, I’m making a nuanced commitment for myself – for the next 40 days, I’m going to question my impulse to share everything and ask myself whether that word, that question, that image, that quote needs to live with me longer.
In many ways, I’ve lost some track of my creativity. I’ve launched myself into constant input and very little reflection. I need to fill up my well again – to use a slightly cliche metaphor – and the only way I know how is to hold some things back just for me – not out of selfishness (which is what my inner Sunday School teacher who is my worst critic is whispering) but out of necessity.
I am a writer. To write well, I must know my own mind and my own heart. I’ve let those parts of me – the often quiet parts – slip into the background; it’s time to let them come to the fore again.