Writing from the Deeper Self

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Writing from the Deeper Self

The Antidote to Fear is Desire

Letting the Muse find you when you procrastinate.

By Naomi Rose | Updated November 19, 2018

It's true that much of my work as a Book Developer is helping my clients get through their fears about writing. Such fears ~ and there are myriad ~ take over the inner life, constrict the arteries and veins of free-flowing expression, and sometimes just plain stop the writing from taking place.

When I am sitting with a client who is suffering in this way, somehow I am able to be completely present to the multi-dimensional layers of these fears, so that in time they come to melt in the light of what's beneath them being shared and received with compassion, without judgment. When someone gets to that more root-level fear of "no one cares what I have to say," for example ~ a child's inner experience, shelved like a scar and covered over with more adaptive, even witty, articulate, behavior ~ then I know we can soften this constriction, bring our (the client's and my) caring and interest to the matter. Being listened to deeply is (a) human, and (b) magic.

And yet: sometimes, I go through this, myself, still. I tell myself, "Tuesday, I'll use the morning for writing, not for work." And then somehow, there I am, working instead.

On one hand, I can rationalize this as having some benefit: it keeps me current with the experience that my clients so often feel. I have no high pedestal to speak down from, no lofty "Ah yes, it used to be like that for me too, many, many years ago." It's happening now, and somehow, from within this fear-constriction, I can't remember how I get my clients out of this place, much less myself.

When this happened to me most recently ~ only a few weeks ago ~ the discomfort of not writing when I had promised myself I would began to set in domino-type motion a whole raft of insults to myself, such as only my Inner Critic can do. From "You don't really have anything to say," to "What made you think this book you're writing is going to interest anyone?" to "If you hadn't publicly told people you were writing this book, you could just pack it in, altogether," the mean-spirited voice inside took the existing fear and bullied it into a wall of defenses. What a mess of suffering!

And yet: I love the book I'm in the process of writing. I love where it's taken me, over several years. I love what it's trying to teach me, how much of myself I've given to it. I didn't, and don't, want to give up on it, or on myself. What I want is to find where it's alive and breathing, and write from there.

This is how I came to realize that an antidote for fear in writing (which might equal fear of exposing one's true self to oneself, or fear that the cover over the true self ~ the adapted self, or ego ~ is all there is to one) is desire.

Desire, I am finding, does not like to be put into cages, even the most well-intentioned cages: "Every morning, you will get up at 5:00 a.m. and sit in front of your computer for an hour, no matter what." Actually, I have a friend who does write this way, and it works very well for her. I am proud of her, and somewhat envious. But it's not a way that works for me. So I have to keep finding those cracks in my defense system, those free-breathing places where, if I pay attention to them in a certain kind of way, they will yield the most beautiful writing that is beautiful to write. (And that's how I know the writing is beautiful: because there is a beautiful feeling in me, as I let and shape the words out.)

Desire is like many of the cats I've had in my lifetime. You do not "own" a cat. A cat cohabits with you, and tells you when it wants what it wants. Uncivilized, instinctive, close to and in the body, desire threads through us at its own will and pace, and when it is ready it tells us, "I'm here. Do something with me."

So it was that after a bout of evading writing my book and feeling bad about it, it was while I was washing the dishes ~ something so ordinary, so everyday, and so far from the seemingly loftier world of writing ~ that the solution came to me.

It really came. It arrived, like a guest or old friend who I hadn't remembered. It arrived along with the flow of water from the faucet, my body occupied holding a dirty dish in one hand and a soapy sponge in the other. My mind was on the dishwashing, but maybe a small part of it was engaging the Muse unawares. And when desire came, it announced itself right away, as if I were a thirsty tree and rain came down from the skies to water me.

I had been trying to write a certain part of the book somewhat abstractly, and having trouble getting into it with any felt-sense of certainty. Ideas are wonderful, but with no embodiment they can waft around and not really stick. Well, when this desire stopped me in my soapy tracks and straightened me up with a burst of interest, I realized that I had had an experience, as a child, that beautifully described and encapsulated not only the focus I had been seeking to write (for a section called "Being Present") but was about desire, itself. No wonder Desire tapped me on the shoulder. It wanted my attention, and my presence in writing about it.

I ran to the computer. Yes, I really ran. (It was only a room away.) I turned it on, set up a blank file, and began to write with no fear at all. Memories rose up to give substance and detail to my message, so that I got to be totally present while writing. At the same time, I was not only recording what happened years ago; I was perceiving it from my current age and understanding, and therefore able to extract just those particular threads of memory that fulfilled the story that something in me ~ desire, I'm thinking ~ was moving towards. I knew the "ending," having lived through it; but what I did not know was how I would get there, which details would come forward, how I would describe them so that the experience of reading was alive for more than just me.

When I reached the end, I knew I had traveled somewhere of value. It was like that story, inside me, had been waiting for a time and place when its telling would be most valuable; its context, most powerful. It was a difficult experience at the time that now was showing me its hidden treasures. It was the setting for a jewel to come, later in the book.

I share this with you, as I hope I share all my writing experiences, to open up to you how deeply held our experiences can be, and how when the time is right, they will come forth with such clarity and even deliberateness that they can only be characterized as a gift.

So the next time you find yourself avoiding sitting down to write, see if you can find your desire. It may be in the first place you look, or it may take a little looking. You may find it by sitting down faithfully at your computer or writing pad every morning at 5 a.m., or you may stoke the fires by giving thought, attention, even the dreaded "Inner Criticism," to the writing-not-yet-done and then just be taking a walk, or doing the dishes, and Desire arrives and says, "Now." It's a good life, when that happens. What's alive in you wants you to connect with it. And, if you give your heart to your book, you can.

©2011 Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.

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