Starting over is hard. It happens fast, as change usually does. You wake up one morning and your entire life looks different from yesterday. Your future is one big ol’ blank space. You’re fine with it in the beginning. It’s exciting. A blank page you can write on, a new chapter to read.
So you dry your tears and embark on what you hope is brand new adventure. But reality butts in. The numbers in your bank account begin to dwindle. Your parents become worried your temporary stay might become permanent. Decisions have to be made. I’ve never been good at those, obviously, or this post wouldn’t be backed by my vast experience in new beginnings.
I found a job, one that I would never have applied for in less desperate times. I found a beautiful rent house. The only catch is it’s on the market so occasionally I have to put up with perfect strangers meandering through my home, touching my stuff.
At first it seemed like a miracle. I found a house and job within less than a month. Not bad, right?
But then I got my first pay check and it fell far short of the mark. Then I got my first bills on this big ass rent house and, having always lived in tiny rent houses or apartments, I didn’t realize how much it costs to heat almost 1,700 square feet.
Aside from hating my job and being poor, I began feeling isolated. Just because you start over doesn’t mean everyone else around you does. They carry on with their routines and friendships and appointments. And you stay by yourself, poor, alone, and confused.
The truth is this is a necessary part of change. There’s a great loss, a bunch of holes left by whatever you’ve let go of and you have to figure out how to fill them. In the mean time, you have to mourn your losses, let them go.
This is the scary part, the part that makes writing difficult but will improve it if you let it.
A lot of what I do is just a distraction from real life. I read books and watch TV and peruse Pinterest in an effort to distract myself. I’m afraid to sit down and write because I’m afraid of what might come out. What demons will emerge in the words? What will I have to face that I’ve been avoiding?
All writing is a piece of who we are. Even these blog posts are a part of me.
I’ve always read that to be a good writer you should be vulnerable, bare your soul. I never fully understood what that meant until now. I don’t think it’s a lesson that can be taught, rather one that must be learned.
That was the problem with my writing before. It had too many secrets, concealed too many things. But great writing and more importantly great stories are open and honest. They reveal who we are. There are no secrets between a story and a reader which means there are no secrets between a writer and her readers.
That’s a terrifying thought. But 3 months ago I never would have shared the fact that I feel lonely or afraid with you. I would’ve made jokes or swept it all under a bit of sarcasm. It might have been funny but it would also have been fake and a lie and I’m guessing you would’ve seen right through it.
Have you ever read a story that touched you deeply and changed you irrevocably? It was written by an author that was open and honest.
Have you ever a read a story that was good but didn’t stick with you? It was written by an author that’s hiding. That’s keeping things from you in order to protect herself.
That is the difference. That’s what starting over has taught me. Had I been open and honest with myself before, I wouldn’t be starting over right now.
I have to be open in my writing. I have to allow myself to bleed onto the pages, to share my pain and regret and joy and anger and suffering with the world no matter how much it scares me.
There is no other way to write. There is no better way to write.
But how do you do this?
You write and keep writing until the truth comes out. You write especially when you are afraid. I recommend you write about what you’re feeling. But you have to be honest about it. If you’re sad, write about being sad. If you’re feeling jealous write about what’s making you jealous.
Our tendency is to ignore or hide the things we consider ugly or that we’ve been taught are wrong. You shouldn’t feel jealous of others. It’s bad. It makes you bad. No, it doesn’t. It’s bad if you act on it but it’s not bad to feel it. It’s important to understand the difference and realize that feelings are okay. Feelings don’t make us good or bad, they make us human. It’s how we react to or act upon them that determine our level of morality.
We all feel things like jealousy, anger, resentment, bitterness, and regret. Every single one of us. The difference between people who always seem happy and the people drowning in those bad feelings are that the former accept these feelings and deal with them and the latter push them away, deny them. Don’t do that.
When I’m free writing, I don’t think of it in terms of publishing. It’s private. It’s not meant to be published or read by anyone else EVER. It’s for me. It’s a safe place where I can say the things I would never dream of saying out loud. I have a special notebook just for that.
At first it was hard. I had a hard time getting the words to come out. I spent a lot of time running on about little, surface things like how tired I was or what bed I want to buy. But slowly other things began to emerge. I started writing about feeling sad. The momentum grew and before I knew it, the gates opened and it all came out. I felt better, lighter.
Then my writing began to improve. It came easier, faster. The characters seemed more real to me. The stories were deeper, more meaningful. For the first time in my life, I’ve done something I’ve been trying to accomplish for almost ten years: I’ve created characters I like and a world of my own I’m fixing to throw them into.
All because, even though I was scared, I was finally willing to write about it and be honest with myself and others.
Give it a try and, if it doesn’t work, give it another. If nothing else, it’ll improve your mood. So what have you got to lose?