An ocean of panic washed over me yesterday.
I’m still uncertain what it’s from. It could have been the steady 16 week gig that cancelled, tossing me into a sea of financial worry—that would certainly be understandable. Because in my profession, a steady gig is welcome; hustling for work and responding to emailed cattle calls has never been my idea of gainful employment. Alas, here I am.
No. It’s not that, I don’t think. That’s happened before and I’ve gotten through it just fine. There is plenty of interpreting work out there for everyone in this state. Think abundance, not scarcity, Rebekah.
So, if it’s not that—what the hell is it? It couldn’t be my writing, could it? It very well could be. What I wrote yesterday caused some huge lumps to surface in my throat. Ah. Writing panic. But, why?
Yesterday was a friggin’ fabulous writing day. I was quite proud of myself, to be honest. I hushed the critical voices and wrote my way into over 2,000 words. I had shit to say. What’s even more notable is that I wrote through a painful memory—one I have suppressed for almost 11 years now.
Wiping off the dirt from this box I had buried years ago, was painful enough. Then I had to open the box and remember all the things that had taken place, just to get it out of my system.
I’m barely into the thick of a first draft for my memoir’s sequel. Yep, I said “sequel.” I haven’t even fully gone through what’s in the box (all I’ve done is dusted it off and opened it), and it has already stirred up some shit. Even just for the first draft, which is simply me telling myself the story, I had to recall things said, things done and frankly—things I really don’t care to remember.
Ah, and the inner work continues.
There I was, 2,000 words in, not wanting to stop. Perhaps I wrote hard yesterday because I just wanted to get through the trauma as quick as possible. Maybe I was ashamed of the past me. I could have breezed through 2,000 words because I wasn’t ready to dig deeper; that’s what rewrites are for.
Once the first draft is complete, that’s when the real work begins. Since music has always been what makes time travel possible for me, I listen to music from the time I’m writing about, and I come undone. Rebekah! See that memory right there? Rip it open until it bleeds. Now write! You think I’m kidding… I shit you not.
Memoir writing is not for the faint of heart. I commend anyone who’s ever done it. Whether you’re Mel Torme—claiming it wasn’t all velvet, or lived to write the tale of your own lobotomy, bravo. This is hard shit. This is me working on me and if you’re also a writer—it’s you working on you, whether you realize it or not.
So writers, take care of yourselves. If a rush of terror suddenly comes over you after you’ve just written hard, it’s ok to take a step back. Find some support (mine happens to be my dog—Dexter Morgan).
Be with the feeling. Let it happen. You owe yourself that. After all, you’re writing your truth—which is one of the most brave, most beautiful, and most frightening things you can do.