Last summer, I was messaging back and forth with author Sandi Layne about the pain of writing, and suddenly realizing that I was turning myself inside out in the story I had just finished, sharing so much of myself I felt quite lost.
She sent me the above message in response. It was my birthday, and what a gift.
Anyone who receives a message like this should feel heartened. Uplifted. Should feel slightly better. Because there is such truth in these few words.
But at the same time, it kind of kills you, because let me tell you, I am not a courageous woman. I have done a gazillion things in my life, mostly because I am stubborn and hardheaded and use sheer force of will to march through obstacles, but doing it just with and by courage?
Until writing happened.
Writing is probably the most courageous I have ever been, or ever have had to be. Because every time I try to cut corners and write for an audience, it falls flat on its face.
Just as, every time I try to write from the bottom of my heart, something happens and my words get wings. When I write to write.
So much courage is needed to spill your heart out onto the blank pages of a piece of paper—or onto the screen of your computer, as it were. Nothing more daunting than that empty word document, cursor blinking in the upper left corner, waiting for you
Even more courage is needed to later edit the living daylights out of the baby that you have birthed through pain and labor, but also through cackling glee and awesome rush of happiness.
You use your sadness. You write your anxiety. You make the reader live the drama that happened. Your strongest writing comes through, loud and clear, when you describe disaster striking. When a whole life crumbles in the chaos and madness of destruction.
When those things have happened to you, for real and in your life, you can either despair and go under, or you can USE IT in your writing. Or both. There is power in despair, when it most certainly can get no worse, it can only get better.
You have such power in your words. When you tap that specific river of personal knowledge. When you use it, and turn it around from having been something that hurt you (emotionally or physically) into something that whispers to people who are reading your words, whispers, until they themselves scream out loud—
“This is truth—this is real—OMG—I am IN THIS SCENE with the author, feeling her feelings, and seeing what she sees! I am dying, running, screaming, fainting, loving, hating, seeing, feeling utterly lost and blind. Everything. I experience everything.”
That. Is. Powerful. Magic.
There is such enormous power in that kind of writing.
To revisit your demons in writing is cathartic. You get to go there again, but you have the power now, and with millimeter-precision, you can excise the hurt. Turn the whole incident into something that YOU created, that YOU have power over, that YOU can use.
There is true greatness when, in the process, you get to take back your power
It is how I deal with pain. I use it. Manipulate it. Force it, until it is totally mine and in a place where I can do with it as I please.
Those are powerful feels.
I know you see it. There is power to be had here. I hope you use it.
Because when you tap into that source, my friend, you get handed a pair of huge, huge wings—the kind that make you soar.
You f*cking soar.