Dear Writerly Woman,
Do you ever feel like you want to write, but when it comes down to it, all the other things you have to do are just way more important than taking the solo time to nourish your soul by writing? Do you ever ask what the point of all of this is, anyway?
I recently read Blue Horses by Mary Oliver. If you don't know, Mary Oliver is a Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, who writes about beauty, nature, and witnessing all the wonders of life.
Her work is hugely popular, but I had never read any of her poetry collections before this one.
In fact, I tend to not read poetry in general. When I was an English major in college I took a poetry class that, unfortunately, turned me away from the genre.
But then I decided to do Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge this year. This is a list of 24 reading categories to help you diversify your reading, and one of the categories was to read a book of poetry published in 2014 or after.
I chose Mary Oliver's book, Blue Horses.
I thought it would take me a long time to get through, because I didn't think I liked poetry. I made sure to read it in October, so I'd have plenty of time before the end of the year to finish it.
But guess what? I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I read it in one sitting.
I read each poem three times. The first time was just getting an initial impression. The second time was to understand it intellectually, and the third time was to feel into what it was saying.
About 3/4s of the way through, I was like: "Oh, THIS is why people read poetry."
I loved exploring the world of her words. The beauty of each poem made my heart sing. It was like I was in the depths with her, viewing the natural world in new and beautiful ways.
I especially loved her poem, "The Mangroves", which goes like this:
"As I said before, I am living now
in a warm place, surrounded by
mangroves. Mostly I walk beside
them, they discourage entrance.
The black oaks and the pines
of my northern home are in my heart,
even as I hear them whisper, 'Listen,
we are trees too.' Ok, I'm trying. They
certainly put on an endless performance
of leaves. Admiring is easy, but affinity,
that does take some time. So many
and so leggy and all of them rising as if
attempting to escape this world which, don't
they know it, can't be done. 'Are you
trying to fly or what?' I ask, and they
answer back, 'We are what we are, you
are what you are, love us if you can.'"
This poem spoke to me because a few years ago I moved from New Hampshire to California, and my journey through homesickness and coming to really LIVE here has been all about creating an affinity with the redwood trees. The redwoods are how I found my way to loving this place.
I'm moving again this coming summer. My house is already bought. It will be a new land for me, but I'm already communing with the trees of that space. Sometimes I visit my new neighborhood, walk by my land, and talk to the trees, like Mary Oliver talks to the mangroves.
With this poem, Mary Oliver is talking about a thing I experience but usually only speak about with my closest inner circle of friends. I, mean, what if everyone will think I'm crazy if they know I talk to trees? What if YOU think I'm crazy?
But then here is Mary Oliver putting this into words, talking about the difference between affinity and admiring, and giving voice to her mangroves, while longing for the pines and oaks of her northern home.
And, suddenly, with one page of writing, Mary Oliver opened up space in my heart for expressing more of my own relationship to trees.
Writerly Woman, this is why we write. We write because we are not alone. We write because our depths mean something to the depths in other people. Sharing our truths open up truths for others.
So many times we think our solo writing time is a frivolous activity, because, hello, there are piles and piles of other things that must be done.
But you know what my biggest wish is for you? For you to spend time communing with your soul, writing from the depths of your authentic truth, and sharing this truth so all of us can awaken and find our homes in the deep being of it all.
I wish for you to know the satisfaction of fulfilling your dream of becoming a writer, because this isn't a frivolous activity. This is soul's work, and that is never useless.
P.S. Sometimes writing can be challenging because sharing all this truth is vulnerable and scary. I've found my way into writing by learning how to create cocoons of safety for myself. I see my writing sessions as miniature retreats, where I find peace, relaxation, love, and safety for myself - and then I write to others. If you'd love to create the same kind of writing retreat for yourself, I created an online course for you. Write In Peace is a 2 hour self-guided writing retreat you can do anytime, anywhere. Use it to create peace and relaxation in your writing, so you, too, can feel the overwhelming satisfaction of sharing your truth with the world. Find out more here: Write In Peace
Emma Veritas is a writer and writing coach. She's a committed blogger and is currently working on edits to her first novel. She graduated with her Bachelor's degree in English from the Honor's Program at the University of Massachusetts, where she wrote her thesis on the power of story during hard times. She has completed Martha Beck's Life Coach Training and is an endorsed Soul's Calling Coach. She is a life long learner in the craft of writing, most recently completing courses on fiction writing and plot development through WritersHQ.