Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Paper has more patience than people..." and perhaps more power

I've started writing again, just in the past few weeks - not blog posts (as you know I've barely touched my blogs this summer!) but story sketches and unfinished poems. I never really stopped writing, but I know I didn't write for fun this whole last year of school. But CPE's been hard, and I've felt the need to process more than usual, so suddenly I've wanted to write again.

In a way, it's a good thing that I haven't felt that old compulsion to write - that need to take up pen and paper and explain myself. Writing was a part of my life for a long time because writing was one of my ways to understand myself when I didn't feel my friends would (or wanted to). I would take my situation, my story, and lay it out on a table, flaying the edges, working through the meat and muscle, taking the raw experience of my life and making it a meal. My pain would become poetry, my history would become a story.

I haven't felt that need, because I haven't felt that I wasn't being heard in a very long time.

Now I look at my writing in a different way: it's no longer for my own release, but for the transformation of others. I want to write my life because I want others to understand what I have understood - I want to share the secrets of my unlocked heart in the hope that what I have learned might become a key for someone else.

I feel that I have been, in many ways, more than blessed in this life - an overabundance of good, even in the midst and face of pain. And I feel that this generosity of grace is not meant for me to keep. I don't feel an obligation to share it, but an excitement - that what I have been through might be a help to others.

My first new writing attempts this summer were clumsy - poems overladen with metaphor, fiction that tried to tackle issues bigger than my experience. But I've retrained my brain, going back to what always made me a better writer: cutting my teeth on others' words.

I've crawled back inside the wizarding world and stared in awe at magic and loyalty and courage. I've lain on my back in fields with Mary Oliver and watched black birds cut blue sky. I traveled back to Alpha Centauri with my favorite team of Jesuits and secular scientists in The Sparrow, exploring a new world, stumbling through our humanity together. Tonight I struggled through the forest with Katniss, feeling the conflicted emotions about Gale and Peeta fight within me.

I've learned again to craft sentences, to cut words short or long, to tease in alliteration and hints and secrets to keep the reader thirsty for the next line. I've learned to stop when I'm done - to accept that writer's block is a way of my heart saying, "I'm done singing for the day. Come back tomorrow."

I don't know if I'll ever be a good writer, or a published one - not any more than I was at fourteen, the first and last time something of mine made it to print. But I know that this helps me, that I hunger for it - to lay out my life, to turn it over, to cloak it in new characters and experiences, to hope that what I have lived and learned might someday liberate others.

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