I’ve mentioned before that I only returned to writing last October/November after a long break. Years and years of not writing. I hadn’t written regularly since the end of 2005. In fact, at one point I had given up the dream entirely, deciding to just accept that I was a technical writer and got paid to write – why make more effort? The idea is silly these days, but it was a different time and place for me emotionally.
I couldn’t tell you what brought me back to fiction. It was just an itch. Something that felt undefined and needed to be expressed. It was screaming inside of me. It was difficult to get started again, of course. It always is. Writing is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. I’ve seen evidence of that in the work that I’ve done over the last year. I know two of my biggest influences in going again were participating in Word Wars and seeing my friend Cathy Wiley chasing her dream.
The more work I did, the more I wanted to do. I found a growing sense of well-being as I wrote, as if I were getting in touch with an essential part of myself that had been neglected and unexpressed for all those years. You know, you hear the cliche about how writers just have to write? Yeah, I’m a living cliche. Since I’ve started writing more regularly, I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my outlook on life and my moods have become more stable. In general, I feel like life is more worth living than when I was drifting along.
That’s not to say that the writing life isn’t without frustration. Any writer can tell you how frustrating the enterprise is; it’s a very hard thing to do. Yet somehow we just keep throwing ourselves at the wall, trying to reach the promised land on the other side. Of course, sometimes the act of throwing yourself against the wall is just as if not more valuable than the times when you break through, to torture the hell out of a metaphor.
This is on my mind because today, as I wrote, I was seized by a strange feeling. An overwhelming sense of my own mortality, an understanding on an emotional level in way that I had never grasped before, that yes, I would die one day. I’m still trying to parse out what it means for me emotionally. I would classify it as some sort of spiritual experience, though.
Now, before I continue. I strive to be religion-neutral on this site. I respect people’s beliefs, and I appreciate when they respect mine. We all do what we need to do to get through life. I do think the world would be better if we could understand one another’s beliefs and leave room for them, but I don’t think you can point the finger at any one faith in particular when you talk about that little predilection.
That said, I have found that my go-to way to be spiritual and, for lack of a better way to put it, commune and worship, is to write stories. It is the one consistent way that I can get in touch with a creative spark inside of me, something that feels a bit beyond just my own meager reach as an individual. This has contributed to the sense of well-being that I mentioned. Yes, some of it arises as a by-product of having a structured goal, which always helps when you have ADHD, but some of it can be chalked up to the spiritual connection that I feel. At times I feel that something greater than me is speaking through me.
I’m not going to try to put that in a box and label it. I’m not going to try to rationalize or dissect what might be doing that. There was a time when I thought that the answer was to pick apart every detail of life, especially my own internal life, to understand why I feel the way I feel. I realize now that that doesn’t matter. Not really. It’s irrelevant to the fact that it makes me feel happy, more fulfilled, and more in touch with the world around me, as well as feeling self-confident and that I have a place in the world. Dissecting that could only serve to diminish it.
I would never take those gifts for granted (self-confidence, feeling fulfilled, etc.), because they are things that I had not had for a long, long time. As a matter of fact, it’s relatively recent that I’ve started to even have a glimpse of those things and what they really mean, probably since 2009. Of course, it’s only grown stronger as I’ve written for a regular basis.
All this is a roundabout way of saying that, for me, creativity is an expression of something greater than just our day-to-day lives. Yes, it entertains, yes, it can have effects on society, what have you, but on a more personal level, it connects the writer with something greater than him or herself and connects the reader with that writer. They both conspire from that point to transcend time and place.
I’d never go so far as to say that books are sacred – that’s a bit overwrought for my blood. Obviously I think books are great, but they’re ultimately just products. What matters is the process itself. Could the process be sacred? Maybe there’s a little something to that. It’s something that I try to keep in mind every day.