Life is short but it is wide. —Spanish proverb
I wrote my rules for writing out for myself a few years ago after the death of my son’s father. Witnessing the death of someone who was not only my son’s father, but also my best friend, pass at such an early age, he was 48 years old, gave me marching orders to get up off my butt and finally concentrate on developing my writing.
I remember reading the quote above in a book dealing with grief a few months after D died as I sat in a busy bookstore cafe with my son. We often found ourselves there trying to find solace from the gaping hole left in our lives. I read it, I reread it. I felt hot tears start to trickle down my face. The ache of how short life is permeated my bones and took my breath away. I didn’t feel like I knew how to live anymore. All I knew was the breath sucking, life crushing, grief that was with me 24/7.
The tears fell that day because of the second part of the quote, “…but it is wide.” I read this and I felt small twinges of hope—maybe there still was a point to living. Those four little words told me my life mattered, there was still lots of living left, even if D. was dead. This was one of the first of many drops of hope I needed to fall into the many small cracks, sometimes only the size of a hairline fracture, on my heart. I have to live life wide. I am here only for a while and I have to do what I can to fill it up.
At the time living my life wide, meant finally owning my dreams of being a writer and sharing my words with others. It meant starting this blog, it meant getting a teacher and gathering courage to keep trying when doubt and fear rose up from my belly. It meant I had to stop telling myself tomorrow, or when my son graduates from college, or when work calms down. It meant open my heart through writing now.
So life can be short but at least I am filling the width of it with what I love.
My Rules for Writing
- Take up space on the page
- Be messy
- Be specific
- Be demanding of my time
- Be awkward
- Be vulnerable
- Let the images flow
- Don’t make sense
- Throw out doubt
- Go for a walk
- Listen to my dreams
- Trust the next thought
- Tell people who doubt to go away
- Stop being nice
- Know I matter
- Know my voice matters
- Read, read and read some more
- Trust my vision and feeling
- Try anyways
- Sit still and let it flow
I admit these rules, or really gentle reminders as I like to think of them, are hard to implement all the time. I fall short often, tell myself I suck, let doubt get the better of me. Somedays I just give up and go to bed early. But then I get up the next day and I try again, because after all, I am only here for a short bit and I want to fill in the wide space of my life.
Yes writing is hard, scary and stirs up all kinds monsters and demons. It also grounds me, connects me to others, to helps me sort out the monsters and understand them. Writing, when I share it, connects me to others. Writing opens my heart so I can live the width of my life.
I share these “rules” with the hope they will help you to live your life wide too.