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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

 

I am a writer. And other confessions.

Alright. I am feeling quite strongly that I need to say a bunch of stuff about writing.

So I need a favor from you.

If writing is not the thing you have a tortured, obsessive love-hate-love relationship with, I’d love it if you would substitute something that is.

As in: whenever I say “writing”, you just go ahead and fill in whatever your “thing” is. Your secret love thing.

You know, the thing that — when you actually allow yourself to think about having time to devote to it — makes you feel elated and miserable. Joyful and terrified.

Painting, photography, dance, playing the mandolin. I don’t know. But you do. The thing you’d be doing if you had all the time and money in the world and didn’t have to tell anyone about it. Yes.

I am writer, hear me roar type.

I have been a writer for as long as I have memories of myself. But I don’t think I would have ever dared to use this highly problematic word until maybe a year or two ago — at most.

My relationship with writing has always been two parts fear to one part passion.

Me and my writing. A complicated, tangled shared history of shame and longing, and unbearable paralysis.

True, writing has been my salvation in the really crappy, painful times and my anchor in the good times. But the idea of maybe eventually getting around to telling anyone about it? Oh, not a chance.

The therapeutic side to the writing, the high of capturing just the right sensation, the power of being swept away by creative force … all of it outweighed — always — by the torture of having to say it out loud.

But I have a point to make here, beyond telling you about “my issues”.

I could — and I’m tempted to — write a complete history of this intricate nest of patterns. I could write an entire biography of disdain, cataloging my various resentments and hatreds.

Starting from the age of five when I declared one night at dinner that Isaac Bashevis Singer was a much better writer than his brother, to — oh, let’s see — yesterday when I went on a huge rant about New Yorker fiction and how much it sucks.

Let’s not go there, though. Well, not today.

I wanted to talk about what things shifted for me, both internally and externally, to get me to the point where I can tell you, total random stranger or internet friend, about my writing. About the fact that I write.

You’re probably going, “I’m not stupid! I can read that you’re writing. I’m right here.”

You are right. Forgive me. It’s just that within my own messy internal dialogue, the fact that I’m a writer is a huge freaking secret, so I tend to forget about the fact that everyone already knows about it.

So what changed?

All sorts of things.

For one thing, I started writing noozletters. Then ebooks. By the time I started the blog, I’d already figured out that this was all about giving people the information they needed.

Information. In a form that just happened to involve words.

And since the focus was all on the content and not on the container, it freed me up to put stuff out there.

I mean, no one expects an ebook to win any prizes for literature. Most of them are awful. You read it for the stuff you need to know and you ignore the typos and the cheesy, embarrassing metaphors.

No one would be paying attention to how I was writing … that was reassuring. And anyway, I knew my material was solid. So I was able to convince myself that the “hey, I’m writing a book” part of it would be okay.

Sneaky, right?

There I was. Writing. And — for the first time in my life — not diving under the bed at the thought of telling someone. Not apologizing. Not hiding my scribblings in a drawer. Okay, I still do that.

But it’s progress. Big huge crazy progress.

And I have to say that coming into my own as a writer — “owning it”, as they say on the west coast — is pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

It’s changed my business. It’s changed my relationships. It’s helped me get better at trusting myself.

And there are so many things I wish I’d realized a few years ago. Of course, if I’d realized them then, I wouldn’t have needed to go through this whole complicated process with myself, but you know what I mean.

What I wish I’d known. What I wish for you to know:

  • That writing is healing. Regardless of how “good” it is in your mind. The act of putting thoughts and feelings to words is good for your soul.
  • That I need to live my mission — and it’s not fair to hide what I know from the people who need it. Same goes for you.
  • That comfort and support and the ability to sit down and practice your craft are all things you learn to access. Things you learn to receive. It’s a practice.
  • That you can find comfort when you need it.
  • That the tingly visceral full-body experience of feeling safe to creatively self-express will come back more often once you’ve known it.
  • That each time you access this incredible sensation, it’s easier to conjure it up the next time.

An old dream come to life

Some of you might know that Jennifer Louden (yes, the super-famous super-sweet self-help author I’m always going on about) invited me to be kind of a scholar-in-residence at her week-long Writer’s Retreat this summer in Taos, New Mexico.

Her Luscious, Nurturing Get Your Writing Done While Laughing Your Butt Off and Maybe Crying a little Too Writer’s Retreat. For women who write (or wish they could dare to).

Obviously I’m ecstatic. Partly because I’ll be teaching my wacky yoga brain training work and some of my Emergency Calming Techniques. Which is just a ridiculously powerful combination.

And I get to teach some gentle yoga classes too, just for some additional bliss/fun/fabulousness, as if I weren’t already loving every single aspect of this.

But mostly excited because I’ll get to hang out with a bunch of amazing women who are — just like me — showing up with all of their “Ack! I love to write and I also get totally stuckified around it” stuff.

I’ll bring my fear and my worry and my doubt, as will everyone else. And then Jen will zap us with comfort and magic and love and really great writing techniques. And I’ll do the brain-training stuff.

And we’ll all take that high-powered creative juice and express the hell out of life, the universe and everything. With love and honesty and compassion.

I’ve never had the guts to go to a writing retreat. But this is the one.

Quick aside.

If you are thinking about maybe coming to the Writer’s Retreat thing, I should probably mention that it’s more than half full and that if you sign up by November 30th (Jen’s birthday) you save some money and get a coaching session with her.

Which is really like her giving you a birthday present — a fancy, expensive one — so I’m not really sure why she’s doing that but you should totally take her up on it. And wish her a happy birthday either way.

If money is tight (and man, I know), demand that everyone you know get together and buy Naomi’s Online Business School for you for the holidays (or in honor of Jen’s birthday) and then make the money to cover it.

Or whatever. Do the symbolic thing that needs to be done.

If you’re not saving like mad for the Writer’s Retreat, do it for whatever it is you need to do for your creative self.

Make it happen. Make something happen. Make that commitment to yourself.

Because the symbolic weight of saying yes to doing something with that beautiful, healing thing — the thing you have such a complex relationship with — is a big deal.

Because getting the chance to experience what it’s like to give real time and solace and attention and love to the thing that can feed you most … that is the most life-changingly great experience ever.

Your gift — even if it doesn’t feel like one — always gives back. The more you give to it of your attention and your patience, the more magical the results.

That whole “here I am being creatively expressive — look out, world!” experience is the stuff that runs successful businesses and happy relationships and healthy bodies.

As the lovely Ophelia phrased it so beautifully in the comments on Tuesday’s post: “There is a Blog Purgatory out there with the wailing souls of forgotten words.”

No kidding. Let’s rescue some of those forgotten words.

Love, hate, write about it, go back to bed.

I’ll see you there. There? Here. Your writing, your pictures, your movement, your music, your art, your whatever-it-is.

Whenever you feel safe letting a corner of the world know that it exists, everyone here will be happy to come out and cheer for you (as loudly or as quietly as you want)!

Whether it’s in person (can you say “in person” when there’s a duck involved?) at Jen’s Get Your Writing Done Retreat, or here in the comments section or on Twitter or wherever.

It really doesn’t matter where.

The point is: Count me in as one of your fans. If you’re brave enough to create, I admire you already. If you’re brave enough to even think about admitting that you’re actually not brave at all, I admire you for that too.

You guys have been such a huge part of my process. I’m planning on being part of yours.

22 Responses to I am a writer. And other confessions.

  1. Tumblemoose says:

    Havi,

    What an inspired post. I wonder if your path is a universal one, since it so closely parallels mine. I’ve had many of the same internal struggles including the whole “labeling myself as a writer” thing.

    Looks as if you’ve made the right choice. I feel as if I have, and my only regret is that I didn’t figure this stuff out earlier.

    Have fun at the retreat!

    Cheers

    George

    Tumblemooses last blog post..The Writer’s Fable

  2. Havi,

    What I love about your writing style is it is always that little voice inside my head.

    I know other commenters have noted how you have that Psycho ability to connect with the little yap, yap in our heads.

    Yes I said it Psycho not Psychic :)

    Keep writing, I might need a little mascot for my blog.

    thanks for sharing.

    Brian

    Brian Monahan, Expert in the Roughs last blog post..Jedi Mind Tricks, Practicing Life

  3. James says:

    Your my fan!?!? I’m freakin’ tweetin’ this crap. My Mom will never believe it!

    haha – I’m with you. Totally hear what your saying… err read what your typing… you know what I mean.

    Jamess last blog post..Sometimes I Wish I Had A Clever Story To Tell You.

  4. Sarah Marie Lacy
    Twitter: smlacy
    says:

    Well, your writing inspires my writing.
    So if that doesn’t make you a writer, I don’t know what does :)

    Totally get the whole, “OMG I’m being creative, and making stuff, and what if everyone think I’m crazy?” and then automatically apologizing thing.

    Being creative is my business, and I still do that, allll the time.

    Its just big, scary, stretchy stuff.

    But my pom poms are out, and I’m cheering you on :)

    Sarah Marie Lacys last blog post..Don’t even bother reading this. It’s just me complaining for 803 words.

  5. Pam says:

    Thank you! I have been following your blog for a while, but I never seem to really comment on ANYTHING ever… anywhere.

    I have recently come to terms with my writer-i-ness — I think it was actually pointed out to me that when you write over 5000 words a day in blog posts and online diary entries and stories and in journals that you are, intrinsically a WRITER and that it has nothing to do with being paid for it, it has to do with being part of you…

    So… thank you!

    Pams last blog post..Finality

  6. Oh yes, you are so perfect for my retreat and so very glad and happy and delighted you are coming!!!

    Jennifer Loudens last blog post..Choose Your Life Mondays

  7. Annie Binns says:

    As an alum of Jen’s Writer’s Retreat, I was going to pass on the 2009 session because I had that “been there done that” feeling but the opportunity to learn the Dance of Shiva completely changed everything and I saved my spot in Taos – which by the way is an amazing place and you just won’t believe it until you’re there. I can’t wait! Wish it were sooner, but glad it’s not because I have to process all the nervous “I’m not good enough to be there” goober stuff first!

    Annie Binnss last blog post..I’d Rather Gnaw Off A Limb…

  8. Carole says:

    You know how I feel! I LOVED writing until around fifth grade or so, around which point my brother found something I’d written and laughed at it. I don’t think I wrote more than a book report after that–and those only under protest–for decades.

    I was surprised to read that you have/had any trouble at all with writing, since you make it look so easy. Thanks for sharing this with us….

  9. Tara
    Twitter: blondechicken
    says:

    Writing is still in that secret place for me.
    Creating squooshy, earth-friendly, colorful yarns that’s the “thing” I’m working on putting out there. My “retreat” is having enough faith in myself to apply to a HUGE show, across the country. I got accepted and then thought “Oh crap, that means, I like, really DO this!”
    The show’s in 2 weeks and I’m freaking out a little bit but I know this is IT, this is what I need to do, what I need to give myself to acknowledge that what I’m building is really what I DO.

    Thank you, again, for putting into words what I couldn’t quite express!

    Taras last blog post..Eco-Friendly Yarn: Local Fiber

  10. Maryann Devine
    Twitter: maryanndevine
    says:

    I never, ever thought I was a writer, because my thing was always visual art. I would have teachers, etc. say to me, well, you obviously love to write, and I’d be like, huh?

    But when I started my blog (which is not a writerly blog) three years ago, I realized after a little while how much I learn when I write. And then, after starting regularly journaling (which is a long story), I started to realize that I THINK more clearly when I write. It’s like a super-fast shortcut to clarity.

    That’s when I knew that I’d have to keep writing, and that I NEED to do it every day (not ‘need’ as in ‘should’ but ‘need’ as in, everything’s better when I write).

    Thanks, Havi, for sharing not just the creative process, but how your thinking has changed.

    Maryann Devines last blog post..Arts and Culture Value, Participation

  11. Janet Bailey
    Twitter: janetbailey
    says:

    Havi,

    You know I’ve never had trouble with the “calling myself a writer part,” but there’s been tons of suffering around the *process*. Your post is part of the healing–thank you! And it reverberates with what I *do* love about the process — “the high of capturing just the right sensation,” the way that finding words for thoughts /feelings is good for the soul. Yes to the nourishing, complex Big Thing!

  12. chris zydel
    Twitter: wildheartqueen
    says:

    Hi Havi,

    Goodness but I wish that I could be there with you and Jen in Taos! I attended that retreat in 2006 and loved it, but my poor old body can no longer tolerate the altitude. Hopefully the two of you will do it again someplace at sea level!!!

    Thanks for revealing all your struggles to name and identify yourself as a writer. It is so achingly familiar and also shocking! I had totally projected on to you that you popped out of the womb not only being able to write but completely at home with being a writer. It is very humbling and a wonderfully supportive to know that you have only recently claimed yourself as a writer. And of course, the genius of your healing approach is to reveal your vulnerability and humanity in such a way that you make me feel like if you can do this, well, by gum, I can too! ( By the way, that phrase just popped into my head and I know that it is very ancient, but does anybody out there know what “by gum” means?)

    Lots of love…..

    chris zydels last blog post..WHEN I WRITE….a very short play in seven acts

  13. Justin says:

    “You know, the thing that — when you actually allow yourself to think about having time to devote to it — makes you feel elated and miserable. Joyful and terrified.”

    Wait, what? You mean I’m not the only one who feels this way about my creating? I have a deep and abiding sense that I am crazy, certifiable, because when I truly allow myself to contemplate doing what I love all the time I want to curl up in a ball and weep with terror and ecstasy.

    Is that not crazy after all?

    Sometimes it feels a bit lonely to be an artist. Thanks for sharing this.

    Justins last blog post..Perspective.

  14. Melissa says:

    I’m glad you’re loud and proud about being a writer, even if we’re all saying, but Havi, we know, and we love your writing!

    I am TRYING to write a novel for NaNoWriMo. TRYING is that key word… It’s coming out in little bits and pieces, definately that love-hate thing. I did something a little out of my comfort zone and posted two little blurbs on my blog. I’m pretty proud of that.

    How is the moving progressing? I hope all is well and you can find your zen amidst all the boxes.

    Melissas last blog post..NaNoWriMo Excerpts

  15. Pace says:

    Havi,

    This post makes me really happy.

    Kyeli and I are experiencing a lot of fear as we’re about to publish our book. What if there’s a typo? What if people think it’s too informal, too repetitive, or too rambly? What if we get burned at the grammar stake for using singular “they”? But we’re not going to let our fears stop us.

    You inspire me. Thanks for putting yourself out there, and thanks for your support.

    Kyeli twinkles. (:

    Paces last blog post..Mushy anniversary post. (:

  16. Duff says:

    Havi, you are the best blogger ever. :) Seriously though, way to set up the metaphor at the beginning of this post so that anyone could use your experience for their own stuff.

    One of my love-hate relationships? Ecstatic dance. Totally ridiculous, but I love letting loose with some funky tunes. Dance was my spiritual awakening–and not hippie-trippy dance, but dancing in dank, smelly bars full of drunk people filled with crazy paralyzing social anxiety. Yea. Don’t know why that was my calling, but hey.

    Lately I’ve been into madman Brad Keeney’s Shaking Medicine, and felt totally embarrassed and yet called to it.

    So halfway through reading your post I decided to email Mr. Keeney to see if he has any events I can attend. Eek!

    Thanks for the inspiration,
    ~Duff

    Duffs last blog post..Deconstructing Personal Development, Part 3: State Management, Positive Thinking, and the Cultivation of Mania

  17. Caireen
    Twitter: SecretWormy
    says:

    Havi – you’re fab! And your writing is AMAZIN. And for this post I could substitute “writer” for “person”… As per usual, you’re topic is spot on and down to earth, really getting to the core of the matter.
    Thank you for letting us all know that it’s okay to be ourselves.

    Caireen

    Caireens last blog post..THE Birthday

  18. Thanks for another wonderfully transparent and personal post. I am so amazed at what we all seem to share, particularly when it FEELS like it’s only me. (And thanks for being my fan, too! That’s nice.)

  19. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    Oh, this is really inspiring.

    I love how you’re not at all shocked by me confessing to be a writer, but actually shocked by the fact that I would think I’m not.

    Talk about a human pattern that we all share. Everyone else knows we’re good enough and is right there cheering us on, and we keep tripping ourselves up, thinking we’re not ready and we’re alone. Not alone.

    @Duff – I totally view dancing as my thing too. Completely identified with everything you said!

    @Justin – Not crazy at all. :)

    @Chris – I have NO idea what “by gum” means. It seems like someone here should know (by gum!) … man, that’s addictive.

  20. mary
    Twitter: creativevoyage
    says:

    thanks you’ve just given me permission to go and process some more photos !

    marys last blog post..Brett Whiteley II

  21. dpaul says:

    um…

    hmmm…

    We should talk Havi.

    dpauls last blog post..The Other Skis

  22. Wysiwit
    Twitter: wysiwit
    says:

    This is an old post, I know, but I only recently discovered this little oasis of wisdom and comfort on the Internet.

    I also only just – four days ago!! – dared to speak those very words, very privately, to my best friend on a very long walk in the snowcovered countryside: I can write, I am good at it, and I even owe it to the world to do so. Still haven’t dared to define myself as a writer though. Will get there soon, I hope…

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