I am sharing a thread from a Facebook group that is made up of a beautifully supportive group of thinkers and writers. This thread was from early August this summer. I was just about to finish my book, Messages from Mother…. Earth Mother, and feeling a bit of terror about it since all sorts of shadow stuff was getting kicked up within me about completing it. I suspected that the book might change my life and I was not so sure about those changes. A familiar sense of resistance was surfacing. And the dialogue that followed was so profound that I am compelled to share it here. Other than the published authors in the group, I’ve changed most peoples’ names to their initials to honor their privacy.
Mare: Ah… beautiful friends, writers, soulful amazing people here –
I would love to know how many of you walk through terror at the end of a manuscript, afraid to launch it? Afraid of what this baby will do to your life and how it might or might not be received? I’m feeling so much angst and resistance and know that i have to keep on plowing through this dark sludge that is being kicked up in me that wants to keep this writing all hidden and under a rock…
would so love to hear your experiences… this writing journey is such a turbulent one at times… so much inner slogging. truth be told, I’d rather be gardening, each and every day… gardening with the beautiful, sparkling, compassionate plant friends. but Spirit wants me to do this and I have to do it…
so much love to all of you, m
DF: Love to you, Mare.
Sharon Heath: Mare, I don’t think we’d do ANYTHING of courage or value in this life if we knew all of what would come from our actions. You have an intimation of the largeness (and hence multi-dimensionality) of the response you’re about to elicit, and so it gives you hesitation, like a many-times-born soul taking pause before exiting the womb. I’m so looking forward to admiring and celebrating your creative baby.
Mare: Oh, SH, you are so spot on… sigh. this is no small baby… yet, I must walk through the fears and know it will be all good… all grist for the mill, if anything. Most people loved my God book, but I got some really huge flack from fundamentalist Christians… sigh. I’ve got a tougher skin, most days… thank you, dear sister…
FE: [This]certainly has been my experience of the recent [Ph.D] manuscript… 🙂
BB: I did a writing for a reading at a gallery in Chelsea a couple of years ago. I had to dive so deeply and relive such emotions that it drove me to leave my home for a month and travel to AZ just to breathe and distract myself. Upon my return I was refreshed and able to complete the task…it was very well received, but I was filled with anxiety at exposing my tender underbelly. It’s true of so many writings I’ve done…or interviews. Sometimes a fetal position is so much more comforting.
Sharon Heath: Hah! Yes, Bruce, the fetal position! I know that writing The History of My Body was excruciating…just the kind of deep sea dive you’re describing…as was most of birthing my Fleur into the world. That said, she danced and skipped once she got out there and was so grateful to me for breaking her curse of invisibility. You go, Mare!
Leah Shelleda: ”Inner Slogging!” Goddess, Mare, you beautiful equine who finds her gait, if that doesn’t describe it. Talk about labor, giving birth – phew! You are not alone. My book, which my publisher requested, has been such a slog – though I believe in it, and care about. My muse prefers writing poems, my spirit wants to be free of “assignments”, my soul wants to meditate – and each day as I bring myself to work on it, is a victory, a step forward. But I am discovering skills and abilities I didn’t know I had, and the need for Permissions and Contracts mean I face what frightens me – The Business World- and I float free of my shell. There is growth despite myself. Maybe all growth is despite ourselves? Sharon, what say you about that? Others among this lovely tribe?
Mare: Sigh. So grateful to be reading these sharings… so grateful. honestly, it’s a good thing I live alone because this birthing process is not so pretty (for this book) and the type of stuff I’m doing is clearly in the category of ‘crazy writer’, I suspect…. wandering the house at 4:30am last night.. dishes starting to grow their own food sources in and around the sink. sigh… what an adventure all of this is, has been, will be. The wild aspect of this is that it seems, it feels as if my heart just keeps on cracking bigger and wider and more compassionate. Surely all good… though I need to recruit a squirrel, one of the ones that was living in the attic, to do the dishes.
Smoky Zeidel: I don’t know an author that doesn’t feel that terror, Mare. I know I certainly did when my latest book, The Storyteller’s Bracelet, launched. Our books are our babies; we need them to be loved!
Frances Hatfield: Dear dear Mare, my experience has been that I am the last person alive who can know the value of my work, or what it is, or what others will think of it. Hence the terror: the unknown. My fear told me for so long that my poems kina sucked, every last one of them. I think maybe now that is not the case. But only opening them to be seen by others could have corrected that assessment. So fly! Fly! Fly!
Sharon Heath: Gads, Leah, can I relate to the image of us growing despite ourselves, or at least despite our terrors and self-attacks. Frances, let’s face it, we’re all “fly,” we crazed creators…as Mare says, our dishes in the sink growing their own food sources (hah!). I get around my inner critic best by writing as soon as I wake up, straight from the dream kitchen, in my jammies, unwashed face, unbrushed hair (and teeth!). Then there are the periods (such as this whole bloody summer, for me) when the gods conspire to keep me from creating anything – relegated to multiple naps with illness or caring for a sick cat. My creative babies wait for me ever so patiently, but I feel guilt and terror that I’ll never complete a novel, never write anything of value again…
Mare: oh, my… the shadow really lurks so deeply in all of us… sigh… something I think we need is a nation full of billboards that only say ‘YES!’ dotting the nation to remind us of the impossible that can become possible when we’ve sent our shadows to the corners with chocolate, to sit and be silent for a change.
Ps. am so loving this dialogue… you all support me so much right now… YES! to all of you and your creative babies… and YES! also to take breaks and rejuvenating ourselves to be whole again.. Sharon Heath, I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself. Maybe that is the only thing you’re supposed to do this summer, be in that stillness of healing to let the creative babies gestate. I’m a huge believer in the creative gestation that takes place behind the scenery of the rest of our lives. I also believe in giving my shadow chocolate to shut her up. And in baring my vulnerabilities in front of you beautiful, sweet, amazing people here, for support. thank you, thank you. hugs and ♥ ♥
Leah Shelleda: I get very “Disney” about housework. Elves would be fine, but a flying squirrel! They are all trapeze artists extraordinaire. I can avoid dirt if I walk around without my glasses, since my natural eyesight tends toward the impressionistic. Unfortunately, and as I’ve written, my muse (whoops, she didn’t like the “my” in front of muse. The Muse – there, is that better) won’t appear if there is disorder. Ah, Leah – you’re rambling, ole gurl….We are all so blessedly, animatedly, irreversibly eccentric!
Mare Cromwell: and thank goodness for that, Leah! Okay, now to find that squirrel… ;~p
Leah Shelleda: P.S. Sharon, I think that fear that will never write anything again is shared by so many. The first time I thought that I was nine, and had nothing more to say to my diary and couldn’t make up any more than I already had.
Frances Hatfield: I could rent a squirrel or two….and, dear Sharon, I have not written a poem in so long…Mare, your words about creative gestation helped me breathe around that one. Love you beautiful creative souls.Now I am going to do some housework and laundry and shut down the computer (=big time eater) for a bit.
WA: Very much been there, Mare. To just garden! But I’ve had years of not walking the road I’m meant to walk, and that is very harmful, ultimately. Knowing who I am and being true to that has brought me the deepest peace I’ve ever known…even if I get very tired sometimes. Taking regular gardening breaks, that’s the ticket. Life is balance. Easier said than done, I know!
MS: Enjoying reading this conversation. I remember Sam Francis telling me that there is art, and then there is the business of art: two separate things. Owning my own businesses for the past 10 years has certainly changed me. It was shocking at first, being in the nitty gritty world of commerce, so Leah, I can really relate. And alas, so difficult to find the time to write…I wait for winter, when our season is slow. In the meantime, a line of a poem is hovering already…
JG: Mare, thank you for starting this thread. I have soaked up every word from you beautiful creative souls. I recall an interview of a deservedly famous filmmaker years ago (can’t remember who) where he said he always begins the next project just as this one is released. That keeps him from obsessing (or even caring) about the public and critical reactions to it. I thought that was wise, good advice. I’ve looked back on my own work enough times now to know that there is statute of limitations on my worry that it sucks. Funny how a little time brings perspective and appreciation. And you know, Mare, that when Spirit gives those assignments, magic happens! ♥
DF: Amen, Julie.
Sharon Heath: Thanks to this juicy thread, I wrote three hours this morning. Huge gratitude!
Mare: Yay for the love of this Tribe and how it releases the Muse and quiets the Shadow… yay to you, Sharon Heath, for finding that space within you and your weekend. ♥ ♥ And to JG … such magic too, so much magic… I just see the magic moving through all of us though… all of us… blessings..