Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Just Pouring It All Out

I’m warning you: This is a long post 1154 words.

One moment I was reading an email from a friend, and the next my inner critic jumped in uninvited and sucked me into a web of questions about the state of my writing. Was I doing enough? Have I really made any significant process with my writing since I began in 1998? Am I wasting my time?

Yes, those questions surfaced , even after my post yesterday where I seemed so sure of what I want, where I want to go, what I'm doing and why. Such is the sometimes-crackpot life of a writer. I have read about this almost schizophrenic trait in writers and even in the most prolific and world-renown authors.

Nevertheless, better sense and reality kicked in. I was doing no less than I wanted to do at this time in my life. Naturally, I could always do more, but I was not slacking off. I have traveled far since the early days of owning my desire to be a writer and seeing my first article and my name in print. No way am I wasting my time. Despite the usual occasional doubts and fears, I awake each day with the enthusiasm and determination to devote as much time as possible to my writing.

You see, when I sit still and listen to my heart (and I am a big fan of sitting still and listening) I am reminded of all that I have accomplished by God's grace.

Once I made up my mind to pursue writing as my life's work, I signed up for a two-year diploma program. It was a battle to set aside the daily stress and exhaustion from my day job and settle down at night to study and work on lesson assignments. In fact, it took me a year longer to complete the program and get my diploma.

However, during those three years, I busted my butt reading everything I could find about freelance writing. I subscribed to numerous newsletters and signed up for, downloaded and ordered almost every free report, book or short online course. I didn’t want to miss out on any thing that could help me hone my writing skills and push me closer to my dream to retire at fifty and settle down to being a fulltime writer.

I wrote for free. Well I wrote for a byline, clips and promotion. And it worked. I received endless requests for my articles to be published in print and online newsletters and on websites. I discovered the thrill and challenge of maintaining a regular column when an article I wrote made quite an impression on an editor and he asked me to write a decorating column for his online magazine. I did it for two years and what a ride that was! Readers still email me seeking advice for their decorating dilemmas.

Being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and seeing how each flare-up came with more intense pain and greater disability I was forced to take a serous look at my life, how passionate I was about what I wanted and how I really wanted to live.

Reader responses to a personal essay I wrote for as online newsletter, was the catalyst that turned my dream into a passion. I was motivated to write from my heart more.

Up to that time, I had been writing about design and decorating. My work had been informative and instructional, the typical how-to articles but in a friendly and conversational tone. That appealed to the decorating enthusiast, the do-it-yourselfer and especially the budget-conscious homeowner. It was easy work in a sense because I worked in the decorating field, taught decorating classes and took on the occasional design project.

But writing from my heart - well that took some serious courage. So I tried and was surprised to discover that writing personal essays, inspirational and motivational pieces, writing about life (lifestyle) issues pushed me to dig way down deep and stir up my deepest emotions on a lot of issues.

Digging and stirring was one thing, but bringing those emotions to the surface and exploring and putting them on paper and before the eyes of other people – well I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how terrifying that is. Since turning back was not an option, I dug in, stirred up and lifted my voice from its silent depths.

Eventually all that digging and stirring, and bringing up, and writing forced me to take another look at who I was, where I had traveled, what I had learned, how I could use it and share it and where I could be headed on my writing journey. Serious stuff I tell you. Really serious.

Through emails from readers and friends, prayer and exploring my feelings in my journal, I discovered where God was leading me. My voice could no longer remain hidden under the flash and color of interior design. True, as a writing specialty, it was appealing and helpful to readers and growing more lucrative for me every year. However, I felt confidence that it was time to move forward with a new vision for my life and my writing.

The time had come for me to take a chance with my own God-given gifts and abilities, my creative talents and share, give, help, inspire and encourage others through my writing and do so from a different perspective and with a different purpose.

Did I become a super-writer, a perfect person? No way! Instead, I saw a person, me, emerging with all my life baggage in tow. Only, the luggage was unlocked, because almost daily, I was pulling out “stuff” – some I still had to work through and others through which God had brought me with a heart-full of lessons that I had the responsibility and pleasure to share through my writing.

Having the weekly column in the Trinidad Guardian is a dream come true. In its infancy, the dream was to share interior decorating tips. It has now matured into a compulsion and passion to share tips of a different sort - tips and life lessons that have the potential to impact people’s life in more profound ways, instill hope and help them towards healing some of their life wounds.

And to think I imagined that posting to a blog would be so difficult. What would I say?

Today has been quite a ramble. But this is part of what it is about. It’s what my blog is about – putting my thoughts and experiences it out there, to help and inspire someone else, to write, write more and live a better, deeper and more fulfilled life as a writer. I hope I did that today. Anyway this post, this long post will remain here and if not today or tomorrow, may be three or more years from now, God will lead someone to read it and it will work its magic in his or her life.

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