Come a little closer. I want to share something with you: I write to connect with a reader who truly sees me.
I wanted to be a writer from a young age. As a girl, books gave me solace in a family and town where I felt invisible or actively silenced. Through books, I found kindred spirits, writers who had words that captured my feelings.
Today I still feel that intense connection as I read, for example, Gerard Manley Hopkins on self-compassion, even though his life as a Jesuit priest in the Victoria era is world’s away from mine today:
My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
He wrote this in solitude, as I write this letter to you. You read this letter in your own solitude. Yet, in spite of the solitary nature of both reading and writing, we, too, share this intimacy.
Here we are together in the text. We’re not alone.
As I write, I am not lonely, because I imagine you reading and understanding my words. As you read, you may feel understood and less lonely, too. It’s a magical experience that perhaps you have already experienced with readers.
I shared Hopkin’s poem on self-compassion and tormented minds in this example deliberately, because I want to gently nudge you to be hereafter kind to yourself as you face the challenges that come from working to publish your writing.
One of the ways we can torment ourselves as writers, is by not truly seeing other writers. The illusions we have about how easy other writers have it and how talented they must be in comparison to us is what stops many writers in our tracks before we even try to share our words with the world.
It took me way too long to learn that in order to reach my goal of being seen, I had to see that I wasn't alone in the obstacles I faced with my writing—from self-doubts to barriers in the publishing industry.
Today, when I feel envy about another writer’s success, I turn it around by recognizing that behind every publication, there is someone who faced many hurdles and setbacks to get there.
My desire for you, now that you’re here, is for you to get close enough to other writers, perhaps even some who you find yourself measuring up against. (Isn’t it funny how more often it’s our writing peers we fall into the comparison trap with?)
I believe a true connection with other writers is critical for those of us who want to publish and be seen. And the best way I know to get out of the torment of thinking other writers have more (talent, ease, connections) is to have honest conversations with other writers about their writing lives.
This is why this community exists, and why I try to bring my own heart to all the courses I teach and materials I offer writers.
I love that you’re here, and I hope you get closer to your writing goals (and to other writers) through We Write, We Light.
P.S. One place to find a warm community of writers sharing the inner-workings of their writing-lives, is the We Write, We Light Facebook group. You’re welcome to connect with us there.