Note to a Young Writer

April 12, 2020 3 min read

Do you remember last year when I pulled you aside to tell you that you must write? You probably don’t. I have seen the way your words come out on the page, so beautiful and pregnant with soul; small pieces of your heart tentatively laid out beneath photos of you in Costa Rica or Mexico or a desert somewhere.

Many of us have lived desert lives: very small on the surface, and enormous under the ground.Clarissa Pinkola Estés

As I write this I am sitting at my desk on a spring afternoon. In front of me is a window looking out to a pastoral acre full of all sorts of trees I have not yet learned the names of. This marks one year of living in my new house. I watched last fall in despair as the leaves fell from my now dear trees, marking the end of something. My faith was weak. With early spring this year, I have been like a little nymph checking for new growth every day on the craggy limbs. Some trees budded early which made me worry about the others without blooms because I am from California where the change of seasons can be so subtle that only a native can feel it in the air. I did not understand why the trees were not blooming. Did I kill them? Should I have fed them or talked to them or sat against their trunks and sung? Will they come back?

But just yesterday, upon examining the late bloomers, I found baby blooms. Oh, the beginning of it! It felt biblical. Something about me loves the late bloomers even more now, though I don’t want the other trees to know about that. I think the late bloomers must have more wisdom, waiting it out. My rancher friend told me to watch the pecan trees because they know. They wait to bloom until the last frost has passed. I asked, “How could they know?” He grinned and shrugged his shoulders.

As I wandered through the trees this morning, I grew soft in gratitude and remembered a line from one of my favorite poems, Hurt Hawks by Robinson Jeffers:

I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed, owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried
Fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.

 

What needs to die for it to begin? And then, oh, what will soar?

Why did I think about you? Because I’ve been a writer all of my life too. I started 40 years ago and have it all in journals, many that I have thrown away. I am 50 now and just now calling myself a writer. And that’s okay. Am I sorry I didn’t do it earlier? Yes. This quote sums it up, and I bet you already know this because I have used it too often:

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. – Gospel of Thomas

So my friend, has it begun, the destroying? Is there a part of your soul that feels severed as you lay your head down at night after another day of not committing? Are you afraid that you have killed it? That you are killing it? Do you flog yourself for not doing the work? Have you stopped talking about it because you think people are tired of listening? Do you look around at all of the people doing it and wonder why you should even bother because what difference would your art make in this overwritten world?

Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. – Paul Tillich

Doing the work can feel like hell because you won’t trust any of it, but the overriding feeling is relief as it pours from your soul onto the page.

I wrote this because I see myself in you, especially my younger self. Wrapped in beautiful things but filled with such interesting juxtapositions of dark and light. Behind the scrim, a woman on her knees in gratitude, wisdom, strength, sorrow, love, and depth. Such depth.

I love you friend.

- Carrie


Notes of Inspiration