A few days ago I read an article penned by James Stafford who is an Executive Editor over at The Good Men Project which is another venue that welcomes my words. In it, he poses the question: Do you want to write or do you want to be a writer? I had to blink a bit, before I got the message. In his mind, someone who wants to be a writer, has designs on creating content, but whose follow through may be lacking. They may like the idea of the writer's lifestyle and persona, but it is not their calling. On the other hand, someone who wants to write, knows that it is their lifeblood, in their bone marrow, a soul compulsion. I stand firmly in the second camp. As one who was weaned on words, whose parents read bedtime stories each night, who practically lived at the library, who toted books around like they were teddy bears, who had some inkling, if not the formal education or degree in journalism, that writing would be part of her career path, I simply 'can't not write.'
Everything is a writing prompt; each moment ripe with possibility that it could be turned into an article or book chapter. I never get the dreaded writers block, but instead, writers runs that flow unabated. The Muse, who I refer to as a passionate and persistent lover, awakens me at all hours. I am the willing recipient of its attention and affection and together, we are insatiable. My daily activity revolves around my writing at times and not the other way around.
People resonate with the messages and sometimes say it as if I am speaking directly to them. It has enabled me to connect with those that I may never otherwise meet. Boundless opportunities have come as a result, including this blog. Folks recognize me all over the place, having read my stuff. In business, we are taught to have an 'elevator speech' so that we can succinctly express what it is that we do. I have what I call a 'bathroom speech', since sometimes I am greeted while at the bathroom sink, with "I know you from Facebook and read your postings and articles!" I blush, dry my hands, hug and thank them.
That's all the upside of this writing biz. The downside is that the call to write can be relentless. My mind is awhirl with ideas that sometimes feel like bombardment. As a social worker who for 11 years was employed in an acute care psychiatric hospital, I can imagine that it sometimes goes on in the minds of patients who experience the manic phase of Bi-Polar Disorder during which thoughts fly through at warp speed. I need to remind the Creative Source that it has to slow the pace so that I can absorb it all. A sister writer named Theresa Byrne had also commented on James' posting: "I'll be mid conversation & run to grab a notepad or my phone...it's like writers' Tourette's." Can I ever relate to that! I have told myself that I will remember the thought, but know that if I don't do what Theresa suggested, then my idea will zip on out the window. I am reminded of something Elizabeth Gilbert expressed in a TEDtalk from a few years back. She posed the idea that we creative types think we are running the show, but really, we are the servants of the creation itself, working at its whim, at its beck and call.
Last year in the midst of conversation with a long time friend, he expressed discomfort that what we spoke about (even though the details and names were kept confidential) was "practice for your writing," as if he and our friendship weren't sufficiently satisfying and that I needed to share it with the world. After that, I ceased writing about him; sadly since some of the things we spoke about, were revelations for me, from which I have stretched and grown tremendously.
I sometimes find myself (or lose myself) in comparing my writing with that of others at which point my inner critic will snarl that this person is "so much more clever and articulate and that's why they are way more famous than you." I put on my big girl panties and remind myself that I have no clue how long it took and what behind the scenes activities needed to play out before their moment arrived. Once upon a time Arianna, Oprah, Deepak and Brene' weren't household names.
As are we all, I am simply allowing to flow what will and let my writing 'write me.'