23 January 2002

Giving myself away

A friend confessed to me today her passion and heartfelt calling to write. She just can't start. 'Inferiority complex' was a major obstacle for her.

I understand fully.

Oh yes, I cringe every time I read my own writings. Other writers never fail to impress (and intimidate) me. I wait eagerly for responses and think I'll never write again when the mailbox is empty. But I've realized that as long as my writing is a means of proving my worth or gaining approval, I will always be paralyzed by that fear of rejection. (And then another month will pass with no updates to the Tent!)

I remain convicted that writing is primarily for me. It helps me to be fully human. After all, when we write we inadvertently express life as we have experienced, or as we hope for it to be. We explore our deepest emotions, discern the motion of our lives, and ever so often get glimpses of God's presence there.

Two writing experts. Deena Metzger says, 'Honor the process.' Nancy Aronie says, 'trust the harmony.. and believe that your own wisdom and nature will kick in when they are invited as equal partners.' So I must take time to let it grow, like the brewing of soup and all its elements.

And there's also the element of being laid bare. Being exposed for all to scorn and mock.

Dorothy Day says, 'writing... is hard because you are "giving yourself away." But if you love, you want to give yourself. You write as you are impelled to write, about man and his problems, his relation to God and his fellows. You write about yourself, his human needs of sustenance and love. Because in the long run all man's problems are the same.'

Thank you, Dorothy. For reminding me that such risks are the only way to grow. Because giving that holds back and hides is not giving at all. No one is touched. We are not brought closer together. I guess 'giving yourself away' is the only true gift. Both for the giver and the given.

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