I must have been about 11 when I wrote and illustrated my first ‘book’. It was something to do with a penguin up a tree, with a lost and tatty teddy bear. I drew pictures to go with it, and made a cover which now lies healthily in the realms of the cute. No one saw that book, not even my parents. The writing was to be my own, and the book too. Then I discovered journalling, and ever since you can’t get me out of the blank pages. Journalling became my best companion in times of the rough and times of the tumble. It is there through joy and celebration too. But mostly it shows up when I have questions which can’t land anywhere else. Those journals, all zillion of them, store a history of words and memories, and are a map of the muddle and de-muddling of this being called Clare.
When reality got too much I turned to fiction. I was 23 when I wrote my first novel. It came so fast through me that I could barely catch it. I was teaching at Peking University in China, a time in my life that was fraught with challenge and confusion, and the writing gave me an escape route, and a landing pad too. But fiction was easier; I could pretend at least the characters were not of me. But we all know that’s a lie. In any case, the novel didn’t go anywhere but to a drawer for a few years, and then to the bin. Trust me, that was the place for it, because I realised it wasn’t about the book itself, but the writing. The book was mearly a by product of this amazing exploration of creativity, power and words, a power which my muscles and body have never forgotten. I crave and live for that feeling- the feeling of life and ideas, words and language, love and beloning racing through me, as if from a place beyond the beyond. It’s magic, and addictive, and hair-wrenchingly challenging, but it’s what I know to be true to me. It’s like an umbilical cord to the secret knowing, which only words can drip onto the page.
It was while in China that I did have my first book published though. It was an English language textbook for the Chinese market, and I was commissioned to write it. I wrote it fast. It was boring, and not something I am particularly proud of, because my heart was not in it. So, the book, was just thing thing with no soul. I may have been published, but it didn’t mean anything, because the metric of my success was never about publication, but the joy of the process, that aliveness.
I’ve about 12 years of blogging behind me now, writing which has come from aliveness, in the main, and writing which has taught me the power of practice, and rhythm and showing up even if I don’t feel like showing up. And I’ve had another published book in that time, One Wild Life, which still carries learning and lessons for me, for it was in that book where I really started to experience the power and potential for story.
Over the course of a year of travel, I listened to hundreds and hundreds of stories from social entrepreneurs around the world. There were stories of triumph and challenge, heartbreak and heart opening, and stories which still need to be told. I put some of my own story in there too, but I was shy, and afraid almost of sharing too much. I missed an opportunity. I can see that now, because I did not go into the story enough. I did not capture the places and the senses enough. But that is my learning, for a book is just a snapshot in time, and afterwards we grow from it.Writing does that you see; spark growth, and integration and brings the strands of meaning together. If I wrote One Wild Life now, it would be totally different, and rightly so. But the Clare of then did her best, and in this I trust.
For the last while, (er, good while now) I’ve been writing a new book, a memoir, and I can honestly say that the process of writing this book has turned me inside out, and opened my heart to my life and those who has moved across it in a whole new way. The writing has made me ask questions of myself like nothing else has, and it has brought me into deeper and different conversations with my family, friends and those zillion journals. By picking up the strands of my story, and weaving a narrative, I have been finding patterns and connections which help me to see the arc of my life and the trajectory I still follow in greater clarity. It has transformed me, and when I say transform, I mean literally- trans/ form = change form. I am a different person now as to when I started writing that book, and friends have even said that my face seem softer, and my heart is more present in the world too. So whether or not that book gets published (which I hope it does), the writing has already done it’s work on me, and I bow to the door of it’s grace in honour of that.
So, yes 30 years of writing. That’s a lot of words, and I realise a lot of learning too. And so, a while ago, it came to me to offer some of this in a workshop. I did one, and it blew me away. I did another, and it too, showed me the value in the process. And so I went back into design mode and have created a whole programme, to be taught online, to go with it. I’m calling it Write to Your Truth.
It’s about how we access our stories, then how we weave them. It’s about diving into the power of words, and writing, for the potential and promise of it, and it’s about circle and connection. This part was really important for me. Who wants to do just a plug and play course? But who wants to connect with others, on live calls, and be part of this unfolding. I’ve designed the course so that I record videos as we go- responding to the content and writing about what is taking place in front of us. It’s a lot more work to do it this way, but it makes for a much deeper, richer experience, and I am all for depth and richness.
So, if you are interested, curious, wondering, I invite you over to my website to read more. You’ll find the course outline, and dates too, and if you have any other questions arising, you can just pop me an email.
The programme starts on Saturday 20th Oct and will run for 8 weeks.
I’ve an early bird offer open until noon on Oct 5th.
And if you think this is not for you at the moment, but you know someone who you think it would be great for share the link to my page. Word of mouth is a powerful messenger, and I’d value your support. Thank you.
Onwards, with love
We make our lives bigger or smaller, more expansive or more limited, according to the interpretation of life that is our story. – Christina Baldwin, Storycatcher.
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