Well, I guess it’s more things I’m learning this week.

Because I’m teaching at this amazing Writer’s Retreat in Taos and yeah, it’s all kinds of intense.

Definitely not at the “processing my weird-ass realizations” point yet, but I thought I’d come here and share some of the things I’m noticing and recognizing.

Thing #1: Saying the word “writer”? Still ridiculously hard.

Yes, I am not unaware of the irony. Neither is my duck. But there it is.

Jen had us do this exercise where we said “I am a writer!” over and over again. Whispering it, yelling it, saying it to the trees and the sky and each other.

And even though I promised to let Writer Me get a whole week of love and acknowledgment, there was still this part of me that went waaaaaaaaaaaay into resistance.

Me: I am a writer.
Resistance Me: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell, you’re a blogger. Let’s not go too far.
Me: I am a writer.
Resistance Me: E-books, honey. They’re not books.
Me: I am a writer.
Resistance Me: How about we just save that word for when you’re being reviewed in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, mmmm? K?

Thing #2: Resistance Me actually wants me to be published.

We also did a ton of “talking to the inner critic” stuff.

And I’m thinking, oh, I’ve been doing this for so many years and I have my negotiators and my conversations with blocks and I know all my monsters

So of course I already know that my inner critic just wants to protect me. Because we hang out and talk all the time. And I know it’s on my side. Blah blah blippity blah.

But then when we did the exercise, I learned something new.

The reason my critic is so obnoxious is that it (he? she?) really, truly wants me to be published.

And more than that: it feels conflicted about its mission.

Because what it really wants is for me to be able to stop caring about what other people think. And since it’s afraid I’ll never get there, it uses the external legitimacy thing because that’s what works.

Anyway, that was … useful.

Thing #3: This is not exactly news, but my standards? Way too high!

I watch these women. These amazing, bright, capable, loving women. I feel this deep, beautiful love for all of them.

It is so clear and obvious to me that they are writers. Of course they are.

I listen to their conditions and their rules and their shoulds about what a “real” writer is, and I just feel so much compassion.

And then I wonder at how strict I am with myself. How my shoulds are even more outrageous, absurd and un-live-up-to-able than theirs.

One woman says, “How can I call myself a writer when I haven’t written in months?”

And I’m thinking (not saying, of course), “What does that have to do with anything? You’re a writer in your soul. I see your pain and I see your stuck … and I also see the flow of words and wonder in you and that is enough. You are enough.”

And I can be completely in this love-and-acceptance thing.

And at the same time, I can be aware of the interesting fact that I write at least 90 minutes every single day and I still don’t think I get the right to use the W-word.

Who gets to decide? Who gets to let Writer Me out to play? Who gets to incorporate all aspects of herself into her life?

I do.

Thing #4: What is your name, critic?

This isn’t really a thing.

I’m just going to share one of the neat guided exercises we did where we interviewed our internal “no, you’re not good enough” voice and my responses. I mean, my critic’s responses.

Interviewer: What is your name, critic?
Answer: I am the protector. I keep you from knowing how they can hurt you.

Interviewer: If you were a color, what color would you be?
Answer: I am dark. I am light. I can hide.

Interviewer: How big are you?
Answer: Big enough. Big enough to block the pain.

Interviewer: What texture are you?
Answer: I am ever-changing. I am the wind. They can’t hold me.

Interviewer: What gender are you?
Answer: I am the Authority.
(Yes, my authority gets to decide who is an author, I get it, heavy-handed-mouse)

Interviewer: How have you come to be who you are?
Answer: I keep your words safe. Remember what happened when you showed your work? I don’t let that happen anymore.

Interviewer: What do you really want?
Answer: For you not to need anyone else’s approval.

Okay … comment zen for today.

Here’s what I want:

  • Anything this stuff reminds you of.
  • Your own experiences of Writer You or Dancer You or _________ You.

What I would rather not have:

  • Shoulds. As in, “You should get over yourself” or “You should try x, y and z”
  • To be judged or psychoanalyzed.

My commitment.

I commit to giving time and thought to the things that people say here, and to interact with their ideas and with my own stuff as compassionately and honestly as is possible for me.

The Fluent Self