Monday, November 26, 2018

In An Age of Overwhelmedness, Writing Is Enough

In an age of overwhelmedness, the daily diet is 24/7 news, carnage, disease and disasters. What is the definition of 'overwhelmedness'? Simply stated, it is the state of being overwhelmed. 

Here's a thought for consideration. Writing is enough. Enough for what? Enough for one life? Enough to get through one day? Enough to move beyond feeling drowned in the overwhelming? Yes. Writing is enough.

But who has time? Where can I cut back, free up time to pursue my creative life? Can I shelve the anxieties, the stress, at least long enough to write this? 

And when I find the time, do I have the strength to mine those caves we fear to enter which hold the treasure we seek? 

In his book, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most, Christian theologian Marcus Borg writes, whether you’re searching for God or not, hope and transformation serve as the pathway to meaning. Much the same could be said about writing. When we engage with others in meaningful and uplifting pursuit, hope and transformation naturally follow.

Why this story? What is my story? I share these words in the Women's Writing Circle. Everything is crafted from memories of my family, encounters with friends, politics, the woman's journey. I look for a line that doesn’t exist.

The writer chronicles the inner and the outer life...her faults and fears, observations and reflections. As we age, memory is intricate, shape-shifting. I think about memory and how to break through to what May Sarton calls "its rough, rocky depths." To work through the complexities of life, I have my writing to dig deep, unearth the secrets, learn more.

In order to get people to understand, you must slow time, go back and portray what you are seeing and feeling. My heart was open. I loved seeing myself through your eyes. We had seventeen years. Twilight evenings of lovemaking; a blizzard that winter I was miserable and pregnant; August by the shore, the sea stretching beyond the farthest horizon toward a future never to be.


Writing a book is exhausting and ninety-nine percent of them are going nowhere. Just look at Amazon and something like a million new books published in 2017 alone. But that’s not the reason we write—to get published. Still, it is easy to shrug our shoulders, give up, move on; we're all overwhelmed. Yet, for me, writing offers a place between the secular and the sacred, especially when done in community. 

One on top of the other, we build our stories.

Sultry summers and shimmering autumns…two dogs you will never know, faithful companions and sources of comfort and joy. Crises large and small, the suffering…all pass through the window of time.

You have to understand the terrain before you write a love story. Love is a terrain like no other. Our little boys are men now. They travel in their father’s footsteps, quietly, silently in moments when your spirit brushes theirs with a whisper of your name­─John─and you and they become one. Part of me felt rearranged after you died. Your death forever changed my life, my journey...society’s crushing expectations of the single mother, the widow…the woman alone. Widowhood has shaped my belief that out of great loss comes great abundance, if we―if I―allow it.

Now…a rose in bloom, the coo of a mourning dove, my dog’s velvet blond muzzle, a word artfully arranged here and there.
I write this and something akin to satisfactory acceptance that this is life, my life, overwhelms me. Writing is enough.

How about you? Does writing lead away from feeling overwhelmed?

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