Last week, I started going to a writer’s circle. It’s the first time I’ve done such a thing. I went to school for art, and didn’t really enjoy writing while in school. I am married to a poet and never considered myself a writer. Attending the writer’s circle was a big step out into my edge or perhaps past it.
I have happened into blogging. I have a couple of friends who write blogs (on the road to free and how wee learn) and was inspired. Once I started writing, things just seemed to ‘happen.’ I started to look forward to my writing time, and look for ways to do more of it. I loved the idea of being able to share my inner journeys with the outer world…so I thought.
Stepping into the writer’s circle peeled back that falsehood very quickly. It went something like this…we were asked to think on the word ‘courage’ and write for approximately 20 minutes. I had no problem conjuring up something anecdotal from my day. We were to go around the circle and share what we had written…aloud…while everyone listened and looked. Then we were to make positive comments about the writing. When my turn came, my heart was thumping as I began to read. My mouth went dry. I tried so hard to maintain composure. I think I succeeded.
Then came round two. The second writing exercise began with a meditation. We were to clear our minds of all things…but inevitably there is something within us that does not part from us, even when we ask to ‘just be.’ For me this ever-presence was motherhood. Upon finding this ‘thing,’ we were asked to ‘look to the edge’ of it, and find what is hiding in the shadows just beyond it. We were then asked to write for 40 minutes. I had trouble starting the second time. It wasn’t as easy to pour out my rambling reflections of the day. I started into a deeper self-reflective piece. I wrote, then stopped. I re-read my work, feeling trepidation over what I’d come up with. I knew this time what it would be like to share it aloud…with an audience. As others shared their fictional writing, my nervousness grew. I am not (yet) a fiction writer. I have learned in my adult years that I don’t enjoy reading fiction either, which is why I always thought I wasn’t a ‘good reader.’ So as I heard the beautiful words creatively spun by the others in the group, I started to shrink inside myself. I worried my writing was too raw, too revealing, too personal. My time came to read. After a deep breath of preparation, I went for it. It was like what I imagine jumping out of an airplane might feel like. I reflected on our earlier pondering of ‘courage.’ We had been aptly guided by our writing coach. I confirmed that true courage is doing something despite feeling terrified. I read. I kept reading, despite my body urging me to stop. I finished. I was asked to re-read it! I took a pause, and another deep breath. I started again.
On my drive home at the end of the evening, I reflected on just how difficult the events of the circle had been for me. I think I had a good time. Why was it so difficult for me to share my work with people? And nice people, accepting people who were not judging my work? Isn’t sharing my writing what I do when I put my writing out online? Shouldn’t blogging in fact be more daring, since my thinking is out on the internet available for anyone to scrutinize?
I came to the realization that it is much more comfortable for me to sit at my computer, with my own thoughts, in quiet, in order for me to feel like I’m alone with my words. I know people are reading my writing, but the disconnect is real. The humanness is not there. The visceral emotional conversation is missing. This experience has inspired me to think beyond my writing. For starters, I would like to try harder to pick up the telephone over sending an email.
I am still re-working the pieces I wrote last week, hoping to post them when I’ve had enough distance from the writing and experience of the circle to bring clarity. What I can say for sure is that I’m growing confidence in stepping out into my edges. I’m growing more comfortable in the feeling of discomfort. I’m excited for the yields that pressing into this new edge might bring…