When I was in my twenties I didn’t write publicly because I was certain I hadn’t adequately processed my life experiences to have anything meaningful and lasting to contribute to public discourse. I’m sure I could have written many well crafted, emotionally heightened or stunted pieces. For I was, for most of that decade, both well crafted and emotionally underdeveloped. In hindsight I’m very pleased that I possessed the requisite self awareness to understand the value of restraint. I continued to learn the craft in myriad forms; through voracious reading, daily writing in my journal, in essays, and as a lawyer and public policy advisor.
When I was in my thirties life was happening in such a big way I had little desire to stop and write about it, except as a form of therapy in the private pages of my journal. My career was accelerating fast, I divorced my childhood sweetheart, bought an apartment on my own, moved overseas to a job that was nothing like I’d expected, lived in a tiny town of 50 people, suffered from years of chronic fatigue, healed from depression and anxiety, started a business, remarried, had a child.
I’m glad I didn’t put pressure on myself to pursue a writing career then. Analysing and reporting on experiences while you’re in the midst of them isn’t conducive to living with presence. For me, it distances you. It may well help you to intellectualise your experiences, but nothing pulls you out of the rawness of a moment like thinking, as your heart is breaking in a thousand pieces all over the floor, ‘I really should pull out my laptop and record what I’m feeling right now.’
No, my thirties were for living, not for writing. I recall being so aware of my desire to savour the richness of everything. To smell the scent of every rose. To climb the highest mountains (metaphorically – whilst I have a fascination with mountain climbing, I have zero desire to try it myself), and descend deeply into the lowest chasms. With every step, I shed another aspect of my illusory self, peeling back untruths and discovering the voice that was waiting to be shared.
And so I started to blog. Blog rather than pursue a book deal because I wanted to practice the craft of writing, not with the pressure of producing 80,000 words at the end of it, and not in the voice of a student, a public servant or a lawyer. I wanted to play with my voice, however that might show up.
Nine years later I’m still blogging and it’s taken all of that time to really come to trust my words and ideas. To know that I write not through impersonation but through self expression.
Now that I’m in my forties, life is more complete. It’s more easeful. There’s more space to write. I even have a room of my own! Now is undoubtedly the season of writing. Now the only barriers are my fears. Of being inadequate. Insufficient. Not enough. Not even close.
And as they arise I remember that I’m the only critic in the room who really matters. I’m the one determining the validity or otherwise of my words. I’m the critic whose voice rings loudest in my ears. So I remind myself that I write because I am drawn to it. That words dance with me. They rise up, tantalising me with their promise. They suggest new forms to me. They place themselves in surprising sequences and suggest ideas that had hitherto been swirling in my head, unmet or unresolved. They gift me with their presence and I write for the joy of the dance. And ultimately that’s what these years have given me; the wisdom to immerse myself deeply in the joy of the dance.
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