It was a Saturday night in the city. A chill in the air because it was February but not enough to keep people from being out and about. Maybe the city never really sleeps. I don’t know. We hustled against the chill, the sun already setting. Warmth waited behind the heavy wooden doors. My husband…
In conjunction with the release of her book Love Letters To Writers, Andi Cumbo-Floyd encouraged writers to compose a letter to their writer selves. This is my offering.
Do you remember how you used to fill notebooks with the stories that filled your head? How your mind came alive when you read words–yours and others’–on the page? You would shove those notebooks in the hands of anyone who happened to be within five feet of you and stand nearby, waiting for their comments, looking for someone to tell you that what you had written was good.
You’re still doing that, aren’t you? Pouring out what’s inside of you into a space for others to see, sitting back, waiting for their approval.
Can I make a bold statement? You don’t need it. The approval. Not really. Not where it counts. Because this writing thing is not simply a thing that you do. It is who you are. And who you are needs no stamp of approval from anyone else. You already bear the Divine Image. That you might bear it differently than others doesn’t make it any less worthwhile.
Do you remember how the writing part of you shifted when you aligned your life with its Maker? It is like what happens when the chain falls off your bicycle–you still have a bike but you can’t really go anywhere until you put the chain back on the chain ring. Then, the places you can go! You pushed that bicycle along for years, wanting to toss it aside for a more reliable ride. But then something happened and everything clicked into place. Your bicycle–your writing–began to operate as it was meant to, and it took you on a journey and you’ve never really stopped.
Sure, sometimes the bicycle needs a tune-up. And there have been times it has taken a bit of a beating and needed time to be repaired. Sometimes you fall and you just can’t get back on right away.
All of those things are completely normal parts of the journey. What matters most is that you don’t get rid of it–the writing. You couldn’t if you tried.
While it might seem that some people are enthusiastic about writing or think of it as a hobby, what I see in you goes deeper than that. Writing is buried so deep in the core of who you are that it is both essential to your very being and almost hidden from view. Where do you end and where does writing begin? It is a futile question. Stop asking. Embrace the truth: you and writing are soul mates. Inseparable.
You don’t always love it, and that’s okay. You don’t always love you, and that’s okay, too.
Sometimes you just need someone else to say what you can’t. Let me say it for you:
You are a writer. I suspect you always have been.
You have a gift. You don’t want to hear this because you think it sounds arrogant, but it is what you were given. Accept it. Receive it. Show it to the world and tell them Who gave it to you.
Your words are important. Hold on to the times when people tell you they have been affected by your words. And consider that for every person who tells you what your work meant to them, there are at least as many who have never told you that.
Your work has value. Even when you aren’t getting paid. Maybe even more so when you aren’t getting paid. You’ve heard others say that the writing is its own reward. Believe it.
You are not a mistake. I know there are days when you’d rather be anything else. You want the kind of regularity and security any other profession seems to offer. You doubt your calling even as it calls to you daily. Remember, you are a unique creation. Not everyone lives with a world of stories in their head. You do, and there is a reason for it.
These words won’t banish all the doubts or make you completely comfortable with who you are as a writer. But I hope they give you something to come back to when you have the kind of days that make you want to give it all up. (And maybe on the days when you have some measure of success. Come back, then, too.)
This writing life is hard, I know. But you don’t have to be hard on yourself.
Go easy, dear one. Be gentle with yourself. And don’t be afraid of what is new or next or different.
You are loved. Just as you are.
This book review is for the writers, and other creative types, so I won’t take offense if that doesn’t apply to you and you decide to skip this post.
Writing can be such solitary work. I didn’t realize until after I had left newsrooms how lucky I was to go to work every day with people like me–writers–and how lonely and difficult it can be to find those same people one by one out in the rest of the world. (We’re kind of a unique bunch and not everyone “gets” us. That’s not arrogant. It’s just true.)
While I have found fellow writer friends in real life, online writing communities have been a lifesaver as well. If you are a writer looking for your people, I can recommend this Facebook group, which is most valuable if you show up and participate. I’ve set goals weekly (and met them) for months because of this group.
The group is led by Andi Cumbo-Floyd, an experienced author, editor, writer, publisher, farm girl and all-around delightful human being. (If you can get to Virginia in June for the writing retreat she hosts, do it. It is magical in its simplicity.)
Andi has been writing letters to writers for years, sharing tips and encouragement from her own life and experiences. Now, she’s put more than 50 of those letters in a book that is officially out in the world. (Is that cover not gorgeous and inviting?)
Love Letters to Writers is an encouraging book to keep on hand for the days when you doubt yourself, your writing, or your path as a creator. Andi urges writers both to “keep going” and “wait,” to lean in to the changing seasons of a creative life. This grace-filled book is full of me-too moments.
I had the chance to read an advance digital copy of the book, and I can assure you that I’m getting a paperback copy to set next to me while I write so I can refer to its wisdom often.
If your writing life seems a bit lonely, or if you are wrestling with doubts, or if you just want to hear from someone else who understands how this creative brain of yours works, then don’t hesitate to get a copy of Love Letters to Writers.
Find out how you can get connected with Andi and the other writers in the group here.
And check out these links to order the book. (As of this writing, Barnes and Noble had the paperback for $10!)
For a digital copy of the book, all formats, click here.
Barnes and Noble for that paperback deal is here.
And, of course, Amazon has it as well here.