Your Joy Is Your Sorrow Unmasked.
The deeper the sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
These are a couple of lines from Khalil Gibran’s poem that refuse to leave me. The beauty of that poem and the above lines is that it can take you deeper into the rabbit hole if you let it. And this line applies to everything, not just joy or sorrow.
Before I explain how this relates to my writing – let me walk through my journey as an author-writer. I was an avid reader as a child, which probably explains why I live in a different world than other people. I find reality so boring that I morph it into my version, which is more exciting. For example – my current job, which is supposed to be challenging, is my chance to play a leading part in the underdog-to-winner story. Anyway, I read a lot and published a little bit growing up organically – and then I grew up and believed the trope that adults focus on making money and not what they love. I struggled with that a bit because, instinctively, my creativity wanted to express itself instead of spurting out in fits and starts like hot sulfur springs. And when the time I came, I decided to do the Artist Way by Julia Cameron on a self-imposed sabbatical. And it did something, and I wrote my first sci-fi novel afterwards. I am proud of what I wrote, and it was an incredible first attempt. And maybe the inner artist in me could not accept the hardships of being a first-time author, so I switched to self-help books. They come easily to me, and I wrote three of them. These books are a part of what I am supposed to do on this planet: – be a better version of myself and inspire others to do the same by getting out of suffering. All this while the ideas for fiction kept bubbling up – and when I attended the Writer’s retreat in Santa Fe – my inner artist felt it was a safe space to emerge.
And so I am working on my next book, a fiction book based on my life – sort of. Being creative is like Groundhog Day on some days – the cycle of going from ‘Super excited’ to ‘Not knoing’ what I am writing is a cycle that keeps repeating, and it will never go away. A part of the learning from the retreat was to accept that this is how it is and not fight it. I am going through one of those phases right now. I feel like my ideas on plot twists, scenes, and character profiles have run out. It is almost a physical feeling of scraping at the bottom of the well and coming up with some moldy remains.
What am I going to do then? First, I went through the usual thought train: ‘ I can never be a writer. What was I thinking?’ The Writer’s contract that I wrote at the retreat – ‘I am Disciplined, supportive and Right Now writer’ kept me from drowning in the whirlpool of negative talk. There were times when my head was under the water, but I could come up to gulp some oxygen before I went under again. Writing this blog is one of those gulps of air. The thought that bubbled up was that if my well has dried up, then I need to fill it up with:
- Writing about my past life.
- Talking to my characters.
- Writing about reality as it is like this.
I am realizing that writing is more an act of faith than grammar or story points. It is the art of fading in the background so the characters can write the book through me. And if I think about it, this is how everything in life is – I am the medium through which the universe manifests itself. And for that to happen in the most beautiful manner possible, it is necessary for me to experience the depth of sorrows and the highs of Joy.
What are you not embracing fully that is needed for you to experience something completely?