I don’t know how I’d ever be a painter. As a writer, I edit every time I re-read, usually taking things out. I suspect this technique may not work out so well on a canvas. (Although I recently heard that when painting with oils, you can put saran wrap on the painting to try something out before you’re stuck with it.)
The idea of being stuck with my first draft is actually pretty terrifying. It’s the great thing about blogging. I can change things whenever I want. I just edited my last post this morning because it was the one post that was staying with me – knowing in my gut that I started writing it from the place of wanting to be a good writer instead of the place where I just write to find my voice.
It’s so easy, once something is sent out into the world for public consumption, to begin expanding my consciousness to include such considerations as “but how will this be interpreted?” and “is this witty enough”? To be tainted with the longing to be liked.
Writing for me gets worse the more it gets like chess. In chess, the better you are, the farther ahead you can see the moves. When I write, I do it for the discovery. It is a practice I use to find my voice. To cut through all the gobbledegook in my brain and distill the essence of the undercurrent that’s invariably brewing in my spirit. And it’s surprising. Words like gobbledegook pop out of me and I shake my head in the wonder of where it comes from. It’s how I know that my spirit is bigger than me and my over-active mind. It’s often as though the words write themselves and this is just an exercise in getting out of the way.
And I always know the source of origin of my words, when I choose to look. I know how my authentic voice feels in my chest, ringing a “yes” in my heart, that for me is often accompanied by a shaky, full breath, a wave of excited energy or a tingle of tears.
I rarely, if ever, find this when I’m speaking. The pace of talking is generally beyond my capacity to deeply attune to myself. So I come here to slow down, to drop kick formulas, expectations, and hopes of outcomes – to practice slowing down – to find words with care and intention.
And it’s interesting. Once I allow this, editing is no longer required. My editing tends to make things worse. How cool is it, that I have this opportunity to figure it out through doing? Because I often don’t know what space I’m inhabiting, until my own wisdom feeds back. And it can’t feed back if there’s nothing on the page.
I’ve spent most of my adult life avoiding creation just to avoid the mess. (Nobody is going to be interested in this – why bother? Come on Lis, just spit it out already. Why are you making this so difficult? No no no – that’s so boring. What’s an intriguing metaphor? Nope. That’s bad too.)
And for some reason now the mess is less daunting than it is a thrilling obstacle course. I’m living in Big Sur – full of artists and other creators – and the more artists I meet the more ripples of inspiration buoy me. The more I write the more hungry I am to receive someone else’s creation and then I’m ready to write again. What a relief it is to be in the mess, after years of watching.
I want to mention that is isn’t out of disregard that I try to let go of my imaginings about other people in favor of my own soul intelligence. It’s actually out of a deep love. I think of my own struggling as a microcosm of the whole world. If I can’t find my own way, meet my own voice of dissent or even hate with some resilience, figure out what’s rattling around in my bones… it seems pointless and arrogant to figure out what someone else wants and try to deliver. I don’t want to offer you something I don’t have to give. I don’t want to be the maid with the dirty house.
And if my friends are a guide (and they are) – I know that my own voice is the biggest contribution I can make to Us. My advice, however well meaning, or my tiptoeing through relationship in fear of disappointing or any myriad of other things serves only to distance. The desire to give or the fear – these are real and wonderful – but until I own and express them, there’s little room to connect.
And look at that! In finding my voice I got the most wonderful advice! Thank god I wrote it down.
*btw – I stole the post title from the title of a book, that I just now understand