Emily’s Tao of Writing
I’ve been doing little else but writing for the last year. There was even a part of me that was convinced it was a problem, like I was writing too much to the exclusion of living. That may have been true for brief periods of time, but not on the whole. In the meantime, I’ve been experiencing a lot of guilt because I rarely sit (in meditation) anymore, which is difficult to admit.
In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg talks about writing being her practice. Her teacher told her to use it as meditation. I suppose a part of me just didn’t buy that, still… like it was too much of a good thing. I love to write, probably more than anything else I do, and I love to write fiction most of all.
But writing is a stringent discipline, too. You get to know the way you think. More importantly, you also learn that the best writing happens when you don’t think at all. It’s a lesson I first learned in meditation, but some reason it’s taken me three years to connect the dots. Probably because I love it so much that it’s difficult to see through my feelings.
I started writing fiction every day about five months ago. I wrote as much as ten thousand words per day. To put this in context, most web articles are on average about 600 words. That’s like writing more than sixteen of them every day, all after a full day of working at your normal job. You can see why, after a few months of this, I began to get concerned that it was a problem. It was very time-consuming, and I still have kids to take care of on top of everything.
The obvious thing to do was to cut back on writing and spend more time with my family, but I decided to cut back on work instead. I am so happy I’ve made this decision I can’t even tell you.
I don’t believe in “making things balance” as a rule. Things are always balanced, we’re just looking at it from one end of the spectrum or the other. It’s more about learning to surf, or as my teacher would say, learning to swim in choppy water. Now that I can see which direction the water is flowing, things just don’t freak me out anymore. I still get overwhelmed with work and frustrated with my kids from time to time, because I’m a human being and I’m not going to deny my feelings because that leads to self-hatred.
There are so many other elements to this transformation (which was no transformation at all), like being hooked on epiphanies and profundity, and projecting my truth onto other people as if they were merely reflections of myself. But somehow, for once it doesn’t bear talking about.
The practice of writing is my meditation. I get it now.