January 15, 2017 at 11:10 AM
Subject: On Writing and Rachel Carson
Just a letter from a stranger here…I imagine you receive quite a few. Do you find that most are from fellow writers?
I’ve been aware of your website for some time but hadn’t paid consistent attention to it until recently. It is food for a heartsick soul and I thank you for creating it. It is deep and restorative, something I yearn for in this world of shallow meaning.
Each of your posts is a minefield of happy rabbit holes. I feel like Alice each time, especially when I feel a bell ring in my chest.
I am a growing writer, not as accomplished, skilled, or disciplined as you. I have begun my journey of self-discovery halfway through life (at least I hope halfway). I didn’t heed my heart’s call in youth. Early circumstances and events bent me to identify with being unworthy and this caused years of suffering and self-hate. I chose paths that weren’t authentic, that were external. Is it too obvious to say that it was unsustainable?
I experienced a kind of self-death, a crisis of the soul, seven years ago and have been building a true life from the rubble of my was-life. It’s been messy. I have wandered and floundered. Do we ever find ourselves, or do we accept who we are eventually to find some peace? Inner conflict has painted my life. I’m tired.
Of all things, why is, was always, my call to write? It’s a masochistic journey and my life has been self-war for so long.
Yet, it’s true and that is freeing. Being free is terrifying. I don’t know how to be free.
How do you read so many books and still taste the words, still smell the meaning? You obviously do. I have a polar relationship with reading. I read or I don’t, mostly the latter. I haven’t read most of the classics, haven’t studied the masters. One of the writer’s mantras is to read, read, read. I have the passion, but it’s fickle.
Am I a fraud because I haven’t? Can one be a good writer without a conventional education? I have so many habits to learn and unlearn. Do I have time? I think I’ve found my voice, but doubt lingers.
Your words on Rachel Carson hit hard. The quote concerning Freeman’s devotion as Carson’s nourishment is too close to home. It’s much the same with your words concerning the relationship between Van Gogh and his brother. I long for this, but fear old patterns of dysfunction. I remain suspicious of my desires and motivations. Love is mysterious, especially for one who struggles with self-love.
About a month ago I deleted all my social media accounts, except for Facebook, which I only deactivated because it is my media drug of choice. They connect, but they ultimately leave me with an amplified sense of disconnection. They are also a time-vampire of distraction. I’m working on filling the space with reading and writing.
The goal is to write a memoir, a book I have been working on in fits and leaps for years. I’m enamored with genre, when it is raw and vulnerable. Sensational tell-alls make me dry-heave. Fiction isn’t a vehicle I’m interested in. I crave real.
I’ve been unsure of the structure and delivery of the book, but I think it is going to be in the form of letters to my son.
It’s hard to be deliberate and patient with creation. Passion is only part of the equation, much as with love itself.
Again, thank you. Your depth of inquiry helps me navigate and exposes me to writing that I may have never found otherwise.
ps, have you read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn? If not, I recommend it.