Are you a writer?
Being an author has always been my number one dream, ever since I learned to read and discovered the world of books, of words, of fantasies. That world became my refuge whenever reality was too hard for me to stay fully present in. For many years during my late childhood and early teenage years that was quite often. And so I read and read and read. My fascination with language grew. The books spurred my own creativity. And then I began to write.
In the popular friend books that we all had at least a couple of, I always answered ’Writer’, when asked ’What do you want to be when you grow up?’
In school, I wrote story upon story, playing with all kinds of genres. At one point, my teacher told me that he would be happy to receive a signed copy of my first children’s book. If only he knew how much those words have meant to me over the years.
In a story there is always a but. A yet. An obstacle. I don’t even know what to term the obstacle that for so long prevented me from reaching fully towards my dream. Expectations, maybe? Striving so hard to fit in and do what was considered not only right, but best? Trying to live up to the pride that my parents took in me? Or to break free from the trap of conformity (in oh so conform ways)? Not daring to get to know myself fully, scared of what I would find?
The thing is that I have always known that there was more to this life. Always. But for so long I looked for that more outside of myself. Trying to control my way to it. By doing great in school. By sheduling my entire life, my eating habits, my work-out, my time. Needless to say, there was no space for my creativity in that plan. I stopped reading books just for fun. I stopped writing. I started to plan a career before I even had solid ground on which to place the ladder. I believed that claiming a place in this world was all about achievements, recognition, hard work. I believed that the only way to actually becoming rooted on this planet was from the outside in. Why? Because I didn’t dare to listen fully to the wisdom within. And that of course prevented me from realising that the full version of you always comes from the inside out.
Yet, all the way through I had this voice within that simply refused to fall silent. I carried a dream that wouldn’t die. ’You shold write’, it kept saying. ’Why don’t you write a little?’ ’Imagine your life as a writer, a free spirit, a creative.’ So, I swallowed every interview with authors I came across. I felt this strange urge, whenever I was away from university on vacation, to just sit down and let my fingers wander the keyboard. At one point while I was taking my PhD, I found myself writing poems in my office during work hours. It happened during lectures too. I had to let it through. There was no way of stopping it. The more I tried, the more insistent it became. It was really a farce.
Finally, I gave in. A string of life events (that you can briefly read about in Danish here) ultimately had me recognise what I have known all along: That the dreams we carry are there for a reason. That not taking them seriously is the same as not taking yourself and life itself seriously. That those dreams carry the seeds of who you are here to become, and what you are here to do. The seeds. And when you start to nurture these, just watch them grow. Grow into flourishing plants that might even reach beyond that dream where it all started. Because by saying yes to you, you start a flow, a connection that is ever evolving. And your only job, then, is to flow with it.
I started writing a book. I could hardly believe how easy it suddenly was for me. The words just poured out of me, and I could sit hour upon hour and just let it through me, until I would feel that now it was it for the day. I had such a blast writing this book. It was as if I was collaborating with creativity itself. I showed up, it showed up, we had fun together, and the words on the screen testified our joint venture.
I trusted the process so much that if I had an idea that this or that character had to wear a necklace, for instance, I would write it in. Only to discover later what was the point with that necklace. That it would be a small, yet significant element in reaching a coherent whole.
Outside my writing encounters, I had this open, trusting awareness too. I would pick up lines from a conversation in the supermarket; notice specific sounds; and simply receive ideas that had to be included.
At one point I was finally ready to show my first draft to a handfull of first readers. Closely selected, gentle people, all dear to me and with each their own qualifications to bring to the book. My father was one of these first readers, and the most engaged one.
Having incorporated feedback from my first readers I was suddenly ready to start contacting some publishing agencies, and I even had my book participate in a large book competition.
What happened, then?
Something shifted within me. No longer in deep, daily contact with high vibrating, creative energies, fear started to creep in on me, in many forms. ’You have to contribute more financially’, it said. ’What had you expected? To come out of the blue and win that?’ ’You have to prove that your choice was the right one.’ ’Well, if they don’t want your book, what does that say, really?’ And so much more. Tough one, that fear!
I fought it. Oh my, I fought it. Wrestled with it. Tried so hard to make it keep quiet.
The problem is, though, that when you begin to wrestle with your fear, you can be sure that you do not come from that aligned, soulful place within. It is always just one small version of you fighting another. And what you give your attention and energy to grows. Eventually it even manifests in the outer world. Of course it does. So the closest I got to having my book published back then was a very positive feedback letter from one of the publishing agencies I had approached, saying so many beautiful things about the book, but deciding not to publish it because I was yet unpublished. The absurdity in that made me feel for some time that it was all a waste of breath (and think a lot about J. K. Rowling!)
My never declining dream forced me to become real. My father had me hang in there, as well. Always so uplifting and positive. My husband, who was the closest to watch the light wither away in my eyes, gently pushed me too, taking me to a national book festival to make contacts and get the feel of it all back into my system. I learned so much that day! Especially how much I still wanted this. How far I was really willing to go. And not least the surprising, but in hindsight absolutely obvious fact that as a writer you get help. If you have already been published before, you get it from your agency. If you haven’t, you find someone professional to help you. You are not supposed to know it all beforehand! There are so many rounds in the writing process, and I had perhaps completed around the first three only. It was such an eye-opener to me. And it left me with new waves of energy and excitement about the process itself. I hooked up with a wonderful writing coach, about to embark the writing ship anew.
I did embark that ship. I started working with the writing coach. I found time and energy to engage again, though many other things were also demanding my attention. I fell in love with the characters again. Got to know more of them and of their nuances. I was thrilled. So was my father.
This was March 2017.
In June 2017 my father died. We learned about his illness in April. Within less than three months we had to let him go. It was not what he had wanted, but he accepted that it was time to leave this life. I was devastated. Yet forcing myself to accept what he had accepted. And finding ways to deal with the physical loss (you can read a brief poem about this process here).
My father’s death left my book the same place that it left me for some time: on the ground, falling apart, dissolving into nothing but a wish for something that could impossibly return.
But whereas I had life and love around me and within me to bring me back up, my book hadn’t. It was all dependent on the life and love I was willing to give it, and I found myself unable to do that.
The thing is that it was way too hard to realize that my close relation with creativity had dried out. That I was in some sort of hibernation state that I did not even know whether I would ever come back from. I did not feel like writing, I did not know whether I would ever be able to write again, but it was so painful to admit this (not least to myself) that I fled. For the first time in my life, I could not feel my dream, and instead of trying to find my uncertain way back to it, I did what I knew for certain that I could do: I engaged in more work. I did everything else more than well. I poured all my energy into every other part of my life that was not related to writing. But of course, I can only see that now. Back then, it was all I could do.
When people asked about the book, I answered something that shut that conversational topic down as fast as it had come up. I even used my father’s death to do that. Out of pity, people would leave me alone. I understand now that yes, it was my father’s death that triggered this state within me. But I have also realized that I might have ended there anyway at some point. And what that means is that it is unfair of me to keep using him as an excuse. He was so much more than that, and he still is. Besides, it is the last thing he would have wanted.
There are always deeper levels of truth to reach.
In the year that has now passed since my father died, I have worked a lot with myself. Both through therapy and clairvoyance. I have come to discover that I have pushed myself a lot harder than I was aware of. That I have had expectations for myself that were too high for me to live up to right away. Even in this life which is increasingly filled with aspects that I really love only. I have to allow myself space and room and time to fulfill the desires that call me forward from deep within.
Pushing hard towards the results kills the desire. Enjoying the journey keeps it alive and growing. And enables you to truly grow, too.
So, in late May, we went to Mallorca. I had one focus only: Enjoyment. I am surprisingly good at enjoying life, when I allow myself to do so :-).
And guess what happened then?
Suddenly, they were back. Those small, wellknown, but almost forgotten creative flashes of light. Ideas landed in me, almost as if they arrived with a tiny, invisible freight fairy, who gently placed them close to my senses an lighted them with a small ’pliiing’. Leaving me suddenly thinking ’I have to remember this sentence’, ’I can use this scene for something’, ’what a great observation, I can turn that into a delightful detail’.
For so long I haven’t had a single pliing. And now they are back, as if they have never been gone. I write again. A lot! But differently. In more honest, daring, unleashing ways.
The entire online space in which this is posted has emerged after Mallorca. I have emerged more fully. But at the same time much more in process. That is not even a paradox. It is simply how it is and how it’s supposed to be now.
My book is calling me back in. I have started to have brief meetings with the characters. I might go all in again. But right now I am mostly focused on regaining my voice and letting it flow in new ways. And on moving my family to Houston in the best way possible, not least. Balance is good.
Would I call myself a writer, then?
I don’t know. Would you?
If it takes published books to be one, I am not.
If it takes massive amounts of love for the act of writing; a good deal of experience with both the peaks and the valleys of the process; ability to open yourself to the creative inflow; and stubborn willingness to get to know not only the art of writing, but also yourself more and more – then I am one.
My dream didn’t die after all. Some might even say that it went through a necessary dark night. And I with it. I hope that my book will be out one day, in one way or another. But I also accept that that book got to be the soil in which my seed could begin to grow. And that its plant has only just started to blossom.
Thank you so much for reading along.