The Process is as rich as there are writers. Though I’d wanted to say more last month, I didn’t want the series running too long. Because it was well received, I’ve decided to go with a sequel.
I now see that in my earliest years of writing I was mixing and matching, trying on words for size, putting out what I thought sounded good. Of course sounds are what give birth to words, and it is the thrilling privilege of writers to show communication is not only functional but beautiful. But now I am ruthless with Self: tightening, trimming, questioning, challenging, making her say more with less. I still experiment, and sound out my work for the music of the language. But I no longer sacrifice style for truth.
In her prolific journaling and letter-writing to those back home a hundred years ago, Irish missionary to India Amy Carmichael would ask herself: “Is this true?” Twenty years after I glossed over these three words in her biography they somehow resurfaced these past few months. In the writing, I ask myself if it’s true. My purpose in the process isn’t to incite a response or rouse an audience. If a word doesn’t quite sit well with me, is not true to myself, I rework it until it imparts intention. I wasn’t looking to be funny or hyperbolic in the posts that earned laughs. They told what I really felt or saw. I am not out to impress as I am to express. And in the expressing, I am also not the girl emptying angry questions out of an abraded heart anymore. Not because my life is perfect. But because, as many will disagree, if I write primarily for the therapy that it wonderfully can be, it will feel like emotional emesis and not true art. I don’t want to take up readers’ time with what is really just personal rehab.
There are sites devoted to the loving memory of a dear one or blogs defined by a persisting pain. Writing is healing, which is in part why I have journaled so extensively over the years. With loving hopes for the people behind such blogs I have connected with them. I didn’t write bereft to broadcast one of the most impossible sorrows I have known. I in fact did not want to be explicit. The journaling already had helped me process the grief. But as I freed the poem to the life it took on, it rehearsed how the world had looked at the time from inside my pain. I had to keep it real. As for creative writing or fiction, I asked myself through every line in Rain Story, “Is this what I see in my head with my spirit?” And so I realize it’s a finer line between journalism and creative writing than appears. I feel very much like a journalist reporting live from what’s inside.
The nascent writer churned out her share of cryptic poetry. Now, I wouldn’t waste anyone’s time purposely being unclear when you’ve come to see what I have to say. I employ metaphors for the 1000 words they save me with their pictures. I’m no longer the high schooler with words welling over in the dark. The journey may start out an exploration. But at some point before I share it with another sojourner I’ve figured out where North is and have walked the line – without needless acrobatics.