Stop Thinking – Start Writing

 

Out of frustration, I posted something on facebook last night about my lack of ability to write the past few days.   Or should I say to write what I deemed acceptable.  I also mentioned deleting some things I wrote yesterday.   I received a couple of emails and comment posts.  All seemed to express the same ideas.  To put it in the simplest form would be to say “stop thinking-start writing.

My son is a talented writer and I know he struggles with some of these same thoughts.     He quoted one of his writing instructors saying, “Fear never starts-perfect never finishes.”   I seem to accomplish both goals.  For those who have read my blogs and other writings, you know fear plays a big part in my life.  I continue to work to overcome that character defect.   I am also a perfectionist and people pleaser.  Yes, I am working on that, too.

I was reminded not to delete things and to kick my editor to the curb.  The words came from a new friend.  She is a writer and former English teacher.  I somehow feel compelled to do what she says.   🙂   I am excited to have her in my life and look forward to getting to know her better. Yet another friend reminded me to take the advice I so often give her.

Writing isn’t new to me.  Sharing my writing is what I feel called to do and what terrifies me most.  I remember writing my first story in third grade.  The assignment was to draw a picture and tell a story to our class.  I walked to the front of the room and froze in front of the class.  I just stood there with my picture praying for a fire alarm.  My teacher was kind and understanding.    She told the class we had run out of time and I would have to wait until the next day.  After class she asked me to go home and write my story.  The next day she allowed me to read the story to the class.

Great!  We had a happy ending.  I wish that were so.  The kids in the class laughed.  My grandmother found my story.  She tore it up.  She was shocked I would write such communist propaganda.  She said God didn’t want little girls thinking they were smarter or stronger than boys.   He made little girls to be mothers when they grew up.  If they absolutely had to work they could be nurses and teachers.  Satan put those other ideas in my head.  All I did was draw flowers.

My picture showed three small yellow flowers and one beautiful red flower.  My story told of the three smaller flowers trying to find water and a place to grow without rocks and so much shade.  They all had boy’s names.  The beautiful red flower was named Katie.  Because she grew so tall and beautiful the people in the village came and cleared the land and brought water.  The flowers and village people all lived happily ever after.   I am still not sure how she determined my story contained communist propaganda.  Maybe it was the red flower.

It would be years before I dared to write another story on paper.  I created stories in my mind all the time.  They took me to safer and happier places.  They allowed me to be brave and free.    I was too ashamed to write any of them down.  I tried for many years to be the good girl they all wanted me to be.

I was 35 years old when I would write again.  My therapist, Jan, insisted I keep a journal.  I only needed to share it with her if and when I was ready.  I started to write every day.   At first it was a paragraph or two.  Soon it because pages.  My pen couldn’t keep up with my thoughts.   I felt alive when I wrote.  After a while, I did share some of my writing with Jan.

Jan and I became friends after I left therapy.  She encouraged me to write and look for ways to share my writing.  We didn’t have personal computers or blogs at that time.   I moved away but continued my writing.  I also wrote very long letters to her every week.   I took a couple of classes at a local community college and the teacher encouraged to keep writing.

I remarried and my writing soon stopped.  I had once again married someone who would control and manipulate my life.  I didn’t even see it coming.    He threw away my box filled with old journals.  He told me I wasting my time.  No one would want to read anything I wrote.   After all I was just a woman without an education or talent.

With the help of Jan and our friend Donna, I found my way out and came back home.  Jan encouraged me to start journaling again.  I swore I would never put anything on paper again.  But soon I a brought home my first computer.  It was a used Packard Bell and had WordPerfect.    I could write without pen or paper and I could put a password on this creature to protect my writing.  I began to write again.

I didn’t start to share my writing until 2008.  I wrote a piece for a small magazine for people in recovery.    Later they would publish a poem I wrote as well.  And of course Blogger came into my life.   I started with a public blog and then added a private blog.  The public blog was listed in the “Blog Worth Reading” section in Moxie, the online Women’s section of the Post and Courier.  I recently stopped writing the public blog and have opened my private blog.  Last year three of my articles were included in an online addictions magazine.

I returned to therapy in 2009.   I once told Rhonda I would do much better in therapy if we could do it in writing.  She didn’t think much of the idea, but she did encourage me to write.  She found a workshop held here in Charleston and encouraged me to go.  It was held yearly on Folly Beach at the Writer’s Retreat.  Mary Ann Henry is the resident artist and leads the workshop called “Writing is Good for the Soul.”   I told Rhonda it was too expensive.  She told me to apply for a scholarship.   I got the scholarship and was terrified.

I arrived at the beach on Friday afternoon.  Introductions began.  The first woman was a published author.  The others had impressive backgrounds.  I introduced myself and all I could say was, “I love to write.”   And for that group that weekend, it was enough.   I was home.

The lesson I remember most took place the first evening.  Just before the sun began to set we walked out to the beach with pen, journal, and a blanket.  We sat facing the ocean.  Mary Ann talked about the beauty surrounding us.  I started to jump ahead and think of all the wonderfully descriptive words I could use.  She asked us to put all those things out of our minds for now.  She wanted us to look at the horizon as far as we could see.  Then she asked us to look beyond all we could see and write from our soul.  “Don’t think, don’t stop, just write” she said.

So I will do just that.   Time to stop writing about not being able to write or being afraid to write.   When I left therapy last year, Rhonda emailed me.  She said, “I think there is a very important book inside of you. You trusted me enough to allow me to take this very personal journey with you and I hope you will share it with others.”    So be it a book, a blog, or something I share one on one, I will write because I know in my heart and soul it is what I am supposed to do.

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3 responses

  1. Cathy, I hope you know you will have to turn my advice back around on me sometimes! Try as I might, I have a hard time practicing what I preach when it comes to my inner bully editor. (Hmm. Didn’t I just name him Rush a few weeks ago?) I “know” the right thing to do. I just don’t always follow through.

    I wish I could erase the messages you got from others earlier in your life about your writing, your voice, your SELF. But from now on you have a whole cheering section working to drown them out with our words of encouragement. Writing, when it calls your name, cannot be ignored forever! Go for it!

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  2. I completely understand! Thank you for sharing your words and being brave enough to start. Keep going!

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  3. […] Stop Thinking – Start Writing (cathysvoicenow.wordpress.com) […]

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