Vulnerability in Writing

This past weekend I attended a workshop called the Gateless Writing Salon. I loved it SO much. It feels so good to be held and led when it comes to writing, as most often I’m the one facilitating.

We were led into a guided meditation, and had a one-word prompt at the end. Then we did 25 minutes of writing. We had the option to share our writing on the call, which I did. It felt vulnerable and scary and thrilling and joyful, all at once.

So I thought I’d share what I wrote with you. NOTE: There are swear words, but I’ve translated them, The Good Place-style. Fork stands for another four-letter F-word, and shirt is that four-letter S-word. And if you haven’t seen The Good Place, go watch it right now!!!

LISTEN.

The Muse is a quiet presence, dancing just beyond my mental reach. She says nothing, eyes me sideways, emanates an expectant aura. I smell lavender, and sense the soft swirls of her hair as it cascades down. I long to please her. I sit with the blinking cursor, wishing for the perfect phrases to come to me. 

I want to be her lover – no, that’s not quite it – I want the Muse to be my lover. To court me. To gift me with prose like living crystals, and send floral arrangements made of captivating stories. But she is silent, with a buoyant, teasing energy.

So I begin. Something was said about criticism and the wounds it makes within the creative soul. I still have the scars. That one creative writing professor in college – in hindsight, she probably hated her job and didn’t like having to talk about the craft with self-centered young people who mostly just wanted a credit. Her harsh red slashes on my tentative stories cut me deeply. It took years to write, and even today, as a self-help published author who feels genuinely proud of her books, writing fiction scares me.

The Muse is grinning now. Is she mocking me? No. She teases. Is she flirting? What is she pointing at? Oh, right. The couple hundred thousand words of fiction, poured out each November at NaNoWriMo time, that sits on my hard drive, mostly unshared.

But, I whine, it’s Not Good Enough yet. It’s not polished. It’s not perfect.

The Muse tosses that lavender-scented hair – I long to run my fingers through it – and snorts at the notion of perfection. Fork perfection, I hear her say. 

Right. Fork perfection. I’m sweating. Is this another hot flash? Shirt. I have to read this in front of some amazing witchy people. What am I doing?

Fork perfection. I’m ambitious as fork. I’ve written all these books. I’m just gonna say it – they’re good. Especially the Goddess one. When I read it back I think, did I write this? Squirmy as that is to admit, I want to let it give me confidence. Especially with my fiction. Look, I live and breathe stories. So what if some snooty professor thought my short story about miscarriage – which, I admit, I’ve never experienced, then or since – was a “tempest in a teapot.” So what? Fork perfection. I have tales to tell. SO many tales to tell. I might as well carry on with it. 

The Muse is smiling and nodding, now. She reaches down one slim well-manicured hand, caresses my flushed cheek. I’m overcome. Her touch is cool and encouraging.

I let my eyes float closed. Characters crowd in. Stories pour from the wellspring. Those words from the hard drive clamor to be revised, refreshed, and shared. The endless ideas that constantly tap at my inner portals? I fling open the doors and let them in. They nibble at the appetizers, pour the sparkling wine, make themselves at home. 

Relief flows over me. I’m listening, I say to the Muse, my beloved, my sweet. She recedes from my awareness, leaving behind a fleeting scent of lavender.


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