The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them–words shrink things that seemed almost limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to where your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemy would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all or why you thought it was so important, that you almost cried while saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller, but for want of an understanding ear. (Stephen King)
I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. (Anne Frank)
You must write every single day of your life…You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff the books like perfumes and wear the books like hats upon your crazy heads…May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world. (Ray Bradbury)
Most of you know that I decided to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. It’s a worldwide initiative, run by an organisation called the Office of Letters and Light (who run some wonderful programs all year long). The idea is to write 50,000 words of a novel or a complete novel of 50,000 words during the month of November. I entered on a whim, with the idea that the attempt might be a good way to kick start a more serious commitment to putting words on a page every day.
Today I reached the milestone of just over 46,000 words. I had no idea that I could actually write that many words in twenty days. I would have thought it was impossible for me. It’s not great literature, and it’s going to need a lot of editing, but I’m doing it. Along the way I’ve discovered something. It’s something I knew already. But doing NaNo has made it clear in a whole new way. I need to write. I need to write almost every day.
I battle anxiety and fear on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s like walking through a fog, or wading through mud. I feel heavy and overwhelmed by the simplest of tasks. Some days I am barely aware of it at all; I feel light and buoyant and almost as though I have captured the peace that so often eludes me. It’s like playing hide and seek with a shadow. And it is exhausting.
But on days when I make the space to write, I feel better. So much better. The fog lifts while I tap away at the keys. When I pack my laptop away, I sense a kind of expansion inside, as though putting the words down has cleared a space for calm to come and make its home.
So much of life tears away at my sanity. It’s full of buzz and activity and demands. I am prone to feeling overwhelmed and spent by the expectations of myself and others. Writing is a way to push back, to ground and anchor myself. I am so thankful for this gift, and for the time to pursue it.
So I wonder, what is it that grounds you? What helps you to feel light and strong, able to meet the demands of your life? Make space for it; cultivate it. And share it with me. I would love to hear about it.