I’ve done the church thing. I’ve meditated. I’ve looked into several different ways of praying. Now, I’m even going to Divinity school.
But I have to say…
Nothing compares to the level of spiritual/human enrichment I’ve experienced from writing.
I’m not just talking about slapping words down on the page. I’m talking about opening a damn vein and letting everyone from your old high school friends to your aunt Charlene (or am I the only one with deep enough redneck roots to have an aunt Charlene) in on words and emotions that even you didn’t know were in you.
I’m not a visual artist... I couldn’t draw a cat if you asked me to. I can’t dance or sing or ice skate. So I can’t speak for any other kind of art.
In this post, I’m speaking of writing. The kind of writing that hurts. The kind of writing that’s terrifying. That stuns us out of the numbness of our day-to-day lives and sounds a deep, emotional, visceral gong inside of us..
Books/articles about writing from people who’ve written greatly are the most spiritually robust texts I’ve ever read.
Reading Bird by Bird, War of Art, On Writing, Why I Write, Artist’s Way (or, lesser known — but better — from Julia Cameron, The Right to Write) is a look into a form of soulwork that’s absent in any other art form I know of. When you read the accounts of those who’ve tapped so far down into the cultural zeitgeist that they’ve sent shockwaves through it — for the lack of a better phrase — you’re in the midst of some deeply spiritual shit.
Writing greatly is about so much more than technical, surface-level aspects of the craft. It’s about taking a jackhammer and a maglite into the darkest recesses of yourself — the very parts you’ve been told since you were a kid to hide from the world.
Writing greatly comes from reaching down into a place within you that, when you grasp it and pull it out, you realize you’ve revealed something concealed in the underbelly of humanity at large.
This is where you find the core of your human spirit. Your muchness. Trapped behind thick walls of insecurity and fear. But now healed by the light of day.
Great writing is clear enough to sneak past the first layers of mental defense from the reader, but subversive enough to then work its way down into the heart where it hides out and explodes days, months, years later, when the reader least expects it.
Writing greatly stands firmly in the divine human experience and creates solidarity through raw emotion. It rids the writer and reader of the barriers between them. It exposes the darkness, throws open the windows, and gives air to what we’ve stuffed down through busyness and the need for approval.
Dare to write.
Dare to write greatly.