I peed my pants (no, really… literally… and not just a tiny trickle) the first time I ran a half marathon. The warm liquid gushed out suddenly during my final mile because I wanted so badly to finish it in under two hours that I had pushed my body into a desperate condition.
I’ve shed frustrated tears trying like hell to do a stupidly simple move in dance class when my legs and my brain just wouldn’t cooperate, no matter how much energy I expelled.
But there’s nothing quite as strenuous (okay, except for childbirth) as when I walk across a hot bed of words and try to decide which ones to place my feet upon. Being a writer is REALLY hard… the beat-your-head-against-a-wall and pull-out-your-hair kind of HARD work.
The absolute number one reason it is so hard is because every single time we write, we see our truth glaring back and taunting our existence.
Our voice, our fantasies, our boredom, our adventures, our excuses all glow in neon, lighting up the back corner of the seedy hotel in our minds. It doesn’t matter what we are authoring, what genre, what story, what sales page, whatever. The truth peeks through even if we are the only ones who can spy it sneaking around, trying to stay hidden and safely disguised somewhere behind the text and context.
The truth is especially evident when we give it everything we’ve got: when we push beyond what we thought capable, when every cell in our body is moving in the same direction to give life to something we love. We can’t hide the blood, sweat, and tears emerging from our physical body, revealing our exertion and passion. It’s just as obvious from the words on our page.
In joining communities like Pregame, I have become an accomplice, a witness, and a co-conspirator to the truth of my fellow writers. It happens in the everyday exchanges… reading each other’s work, getting advice, sharing our fears, and celebrating milestones. I have begun to recognize a bodily evolution in our relationship with the truth, and each other.
Here are five core truths that I’ve learned from being a writer:
1. Stretching truth stretches your mind.
We writers feel so special about our craft because we find ourselves with a true purpose.
One day, we woke up and set out on a plight for greatness with each new sentence. We become watch owls over reality, and see strange things around us we hadn’t noticed before. We feel like we are in on a big secret, and found that hole in the ground that leads us to Wonderland.
In sharing our observations, we find that there are others out there that can relate to the same things we see and feel… and we realize, they are “chosen” too! They too opened their eyes and glimpsed into a world shrouded by unbelieving followers; a world where we don’t have to keep doing the same things that same way, where beautifully strange things happen, where we can skinny dip in the pool of joy.
2. Bodies of truth cross paths.
Many have come before me, and many after, will share the trail we writers blaze today with our noble and extraordinary notions. Sure, we all have different starting points and ending points, and we each travel at different speeds. Those friendly creatures who we meet on the path can become our allies, and help us fight the monsters that get in our way.
And the monsters ARE there, you just have to see them. Or rather, stop pretending that you can’t. If you trust and enlist the help of peers, and you face them together, then you’ll speed up, move on, and get closer to your destination.
3. It’s a matter of life and death truth.
At some point we feel like we will DIE if we don’t tell our story. For some of us, it might feel that way EVERY time. Because when our tongue is so crippled with emotion and we can’t translate the thoughts in our head, the pen moves and tells of the intensity that we can’t express any other way.
Sometimes it’s so sealed up deep under our skin that we don’t even know it’s there until we reach in and pull it out with our rapping fingertips. Sometimes it’s cleansing to just let it flow onto the page, even if we wash it down the drain before it can sting any reading eyes. Sometimes it’s easier to whisper something aloud after writing about the whispers in our head.
And then, other times, it feels like we will die if we DO tell our story. The harder it is to put it down into a recognizable sequence of black letters, the more likely it will heal us if we do.
4. Truth is in the eye of the beholder.
There’s that thing inside that we’re too terrified to tell anyone. That thing that both lights the fire in our belly AND gives us that icky feeling when we know that people might judge us and call us deranged or disillusioned if they knew.
You know, THAT.
You’re not the only one. Someone else out there feels the same disgrace; they too have done the unheard of, they wish for the improbable. When you own it, when you say it’s yours and it belongs to you, then people flock to you. Because they’ll feel understood. They’re not “the only one” anymore, either.
5. We feel truth in our bones.
Our desires are full of more joy than pain. Our experiences are more common than shameful. Our dreams are more feasible than elusive.
It’s magical to write about the things we love, to find pleasure in the body of white space that we weren’t before able to find. Once we put them on the page so that we can we can see them, we can embrace them, and we can even edit them so that they more accurately reflect who we are. Or they can change us, word by word, into the person we want to be.
The real truth is that we writers CRAVE to tell our truth.
We WANT our truth bared.
Our truth is what moves and connects us. It transforms meaningless material into a living and breathing force of beauty.
Artwork by Costas Picadas