Writing from the Deeper Self



Writing from the Deeper Self

Refining and Being Refined

On artistic developing — and being developed.

By Naomi Rose | Updated May 18, 2018


In preparation for a writing conference I'll be going to in a week and a half (SFWritingforChange.org), I was redoing my brochure, based on a template available on my desktop graphics program. It was the visuals I was seeking to improve: I'd worked on the text for years.

I had found a template originally meant for a catering company, which of course has no direct relationship to my work as a book developer. But the colors were subtle and lovely, in one of my favorite color combinations: purple and green. And so, having been trained as a visual artist long ago, I swapped fonts and exchanged formats, took out the photos of chocolate mousse and popped in my logo, my photo, my text. Getting this just right took more time than I had thought it would. Hours sped by, and still I was there at the computer, finessing slight changes over and over again. When I thought I was done, I wasn't. The next morning I awoke with the obsession to go back to the project, having somehow in my sleep solved a problem that had nagged at me the day before.

I took the project to work with me (being self-employed, I could do that) and poured myself into the refining of the images over a matter of many hours. The steadiness of my concentration was not even an effort. All I wanted was to stay with the project until it was finished to my satisfaction — until I loved it well enough to say to myself, "That's it, no more."

Sometimes this can happen with a written work as well. Refinements are always part of what an artist does. In the beginning is the rough idea, the desire, the glimpse. And then, once something is down on paper (or screen, or canvas), what is there that is imperfect itself suggests the refinements needed. Some people work everything out in their heads beforehand, and putting it down is almost a matter of dictation. Not so for me: I get the urge, and then I have to see it played out to some degree, have to have my hands in it, to move things around and try this and that. I'm sure things would go smoother if I just knew exactly what I wanted and executed it, like an engineer. But though engineering has its place, artistry is something else. There is an interaction between the known and the unknown; and the artist, the real medium of the manifestation, bridges the worlds of the unseen and the seen.

Despite the initial seeming-chaos of this way of creating, there is an encompassing rapture that attends it. You are following something that is leading you, and you don't even necessarily know what it is until it has fully shown itself. Even in designing a new brochure, even adapting a graphics program template, there is that call to beauty that keeps the soul engaged so deeply that time goes by clockless, and the need for physical comforts takes a back set. So I emerged, triumphant and humbled, both, with a lovely brochure that has the same kind of subtlety as my actual work with clients: that degree of nuance and shading, that degree of listening and harmony.

The intensiveness of this engagement, over hours spread out across two days, bore fruit not only in the brochure itself, but — as the visual aspect of what I do grew more and more refined — also in the written description of what my work is really about. For the last 20 years or so, the "tagline" under Writing from the Deeper Self has been "Bringing Your Treasures into the World." I have meant, by that, that the process of truly listening to what is in a person's heart — and giving them the loving space in which to discover that and find the courage to bring that forth in their writing — honors the often-hidden inner being of the writer, and provides an opportunity to shine her or his light by completing the writing of the books and sharing them with others, rather than keeping them in a drawer or never writing them at all.

But in the very process of refining the look of my brochure — in the absorption of the act, the steadfast dedication (a nicer term than "obsession"), the will to stay the course until perfection had been achieved — something additional took place within me. I found that I was refining my vision of my work, as well. Nor did I consciously realize this until, when it came time to type in my tagline, I felt the desire to tinker with it, too — to refine it.

This is no big deal when you are setting out to come up with a tagline. But I'd counted on its wording for two decades. I had no thought of improving it. It was the process of refining the visual context to describe and evoke my work as a book developer that went beyond the particular focus, and refined the vision of the work itself.

And so the new, improved tagline emerged unexpectedly: "Bringing Your Inner Treasures to the Outer World"!

What's the difference? I think the difference is something that's been growing inside me for a little while, without my realizing it. When I started this work in the 1980s, I was sure that the most hidden, tender things inside me — exactly what needed to make their way into writing — was my "stuff" alone. That the kind of sensitivities and remembrances that lived in my inner world had little place in the rough-and-tumble outer world. And so, as I began working with clients, I sought to hold for them that kind of protection of their inner treasures, assuming that others, like me at the time, were both yearning to see and show their true being in their writing, and also frightened, perhaps even ashamed, of doing so in public. This was what "Bringing Your Treasures into the World" was based on.

But in being given the refinement of the tagline now as "Bringing Your Inner Treasures to the Outer World," I realized that the old protective stance was in the process of changing. That I now feel that what is in us most authentically is exactly what will heal the world. That we have hidden our best nature away, protectively, when young, and now our world is starving for what we ourselves can give.

It is an exciting awareness, this slight refinement. It says to me that all of us have within us the deep being that we are soul-parched for in our culture. And that if we can learn to listen well enough to ourselves to articulate that being in language that speaks to both our own soul and to the universal experience, then we give to the world a great gift. We not only become the change we seek, we come into our most authentic being. And we thereby know ourselves as kindred with all other human beings.

What is the potential effect of bringing your inner treasures to the outer world? I remember being in my teens at the supermarket checkout counter, looking at the magazines (in those days, Seventeen, Vogue, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, etc.) with a sense of terrible exile. My soul sought some mirror in the outer world to tell me that I was much more than the superficial images and how-to tips staring back at me from the magazine covers. I was too young, then, and too ensconced in the world of my family, to even imagine that there were other ways of living, knowing, and being. And that one day, having found some of those other ways, I would contribute better mirrors to the culture than were provided for me at the time — and that I would even be blessed enough to enable other people to contribute better mirrors through the writings of their hearts.

We think we are doing everything all by ourselves. But what if we, too, are being refined? What if we are the artistic creations of a benevolent Being that, in all that we go through — our joys, our trials, our challenges — the basic ore of our nature is being refined and refined and refined? What if we are being developed by God, just as we develop and refine our creative works?

In awe and gratitude, I submit that it really may work this way. It's something to consider, when we look at our lives, and look at creating works that not only come out of our lives as we know them but also that help to create, and re-create, and refine our lives as well.

I hope that you will take to heart anything here that speaks to you. If you find yourself with a wish to write a book, I will honor you and your project, and help you have the best birth possible. May you be blessed to bring your inner treasures to the awaiting outer world.

Next: Writing a Book as a Quest

©2008 Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.