‘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.
I have this strong feeling at the moment that tectonic plates are shifting. No, not those actual one, although we can all feel the earth shifting gear, but my own- the geography of identity and the geography of how I place myself in the world. What I thought were big solid chunks of me have been crumbling, like clay, and what remains feels raw and exposed.
I’m not complaining; it’s about time, and on a scale of one to good, I’m definitely at the good end of that right now.
Let me tell you a story.
For the past five months or so I’ve been facing the blank page on a near daily basis, first in my journal and then to the book. The book is still very much a work in progress. I’m 95,000 words in now though and I’m about at the stage where I’ll be doing my first big edit. That’s five months of unearthing the tectonic plates which have formed me, 5 months of having whopper conversations with the layers of my identity, and 5 months of diving into the dark to bring up the pearls. It’s some dive.
Already I can say this with 100% certainty that whatever happens next, if no one ever reads it, if I never write another word of it, the process of writing my story has fundamentally altered me- on a scale of one to good, I’d say remarkably so.
I’d always known this about words and writing and the power of story, but I had never really really fully fully allowed the writing process to change me; like at a DNA level, like at a cellular one.
This may all sound dramatic, for effect, but I kid you not, it’s not- I literally feel different in my bones.
So, the story: Well, it’s about my own journey into womanhood, a story which criss-crosses religions, continents, professions, loves and longings. It goes back in time to my great-grandmother and forward to the future generations which are to inherit our collective legacies. It’s a story about the silences we carry and sometimes the shame which gets held somewhere in the marrow of us. It’s also a love letter to the sea. Books can do that you see, have magic potential to travel in space and time and to make meaning. I am finding this all out as I go.
Telling my own story has been the biggest gift I have ever given to myself – by far. It’s to do with my mother.
The writing of the book has given me permission, in a way, to ask my mother questions I would not have asked otherwise. In doing so we are each getting to know each other better, and deeper, and so in a way the book has already given me the gift of my actual mother- not the mother of the stories I had made up in my head, but the mother who is filled with love and who has always been there. It’s beyond scale. And I will be forever grateful for the book for this.
But as tectonic plates shift, there is a natural churning and turning, and episodic outbreaks of turbulence. I’ve cried tears which I’ve held on to for years, I’ve released shame which was buried so deep I mistook it for my identity and I’ve shed layers and layers of stories which are no longer serving me. There is more to do, but by God, I knew writing was powerful but I did not realise just how powerful it can be, if we let it.
So, yes, the tectonic plates are shifting. I’m entering into a new decade of my life next year, which seems significant. I know that how I am going to be showing up in the world will be different, and what I put out into the world will be different but it is not yet formed, and I can tell you this friends, that scares the tiddlywinks out of me, so much so that some days I don’t want to get out from under the covers and definitely not come out to play.
For many of you who have been following my own journey for some time now, even as far back as the ‘One Wild Life’ book (*hello, and thank you), you’ll know that my path, particularly my career path, has shifted and changed route so many times it would make even a signpost dizzy, but I warn you, it is changing track again. I’ve a sense of it forming- likely to do with helping other people birth their books, and it is do with listening to the landscape (internal and external) for our own maps. I’m walking into that slowly… I have a big roll of white paper out tonight, scrawled with ideas, but the full story is just not their yet and (to drag the cliche out a bit longer), the next chapter is not quite ready to emerge. So yes, scary as scary, but trust is trust, and I am learning more and more to lean into that; so on a scale of scary to trust, I’m tipping the balance to trust right now, just.
So, I suppose I wanted to share these words with you tonight to say that things will be changing around here, but I am not exactly sure in what ways yet, or when, but yes, changing.
And I wanted to say, if you are thinking of writing your story- do it- because on a scale of one to certain I am beyond certain that it will change you.
So, until soon,
With love from the wild edge, on this Friday evening, beside a crackling fire, with Milly by my side as I am about to dive into a plate of roast vegetable and particularly the roast potatoes, so on a scale of one to bliss, it is definitely bliss.
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