“Whatever you have to say, leave
The roots on, let them
And the dirt
Just to make clear
Where they come from.” ― Charles Olson
Life is messy. And our writing life, that can help us with and through some of these messes, is also muddled, littered with obstacles, and unsettling even on our better days. Life, as Joseph Campbell so famously said, has always been a mess.
I can’t imagine (and won’t try) a life where I don’t hold conversations with myself and my surroundings through the written word. I have likely gotten through all my messes by writing through them. Over this past year of COVID restrictions I have not filled up as many journals and perhaps only a singular field note book with my words.
I’ve been busy this past year counseling and consulting full time, all through the screen of my computer. This has been a great joy to work with people, and I will continue to do so but I will also be heading out more. So, I not only have to figure out how to wear jeans and shoes again, I need to get out my field notebooks.
I will be in the field more, where there are more messes.
Messy, as it turns out is good. (and inevitable).
The invitation here is to open up and hold a conversation with these messes, these conflicts and times of uncertainty. Drive off the usual path, invite the stranger in, be courageous every day, ask for what you want, listen to the other’s struggles.
Sign up for that trip or class. Take that detour.
And take your field notebook with you. Take notes.
I recommend to my writers not to end their stories (especially books) in a nice neat bow with all the questions answered. Yes, resolve most of the mess and conflicts, but not all of them. Leave some for the reader to imagine how this might be worked out.
What messes can you leave unresolved in your written story (or life)? Write about that.
What feels messy to you (or for a character in your book)? Write about that.
Where can you leave the roots on? Write about that.
There are two messes that must be challenged and cleaned up: Manuscript clutter and the clutter of too much stuff. With the manuscript clutter, I recommend you keep your computer desk top clean and not save every draft (or any drafts). Get some mentoring or help with bringing your written work into a cohesive piece. And with all that stuff – recycle, discard and repurpose. Leave nothing behind for someone else to deal with. Let’s take care of our own messes.
The warrior’s approach
is to say “yes” to life:
“yea” to it all.
in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.
When we talk about
settling the world’s problems,
we’re barking up the wrong tree.
The world is perfect. It’s a mess.
It has always been a mess.
We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.
–Campbell, Joseph. A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell Book 2) .
Join Molly Chanson and Me for an in-person writing and yoga retreat this fall! Here: The Sacred Thread Retreat.
All Write Wednesdays: World into Word
All Write Wednesdays is a blog about living the writer's life. Everything in our lives is material to explore & write about. Here, the spiritual path meets up with the writer's path. Read the All Write Wednesdays posts.