Take Shape: Becoming in the Creative Process

For five years, I didn’t write.

I thought I had better things to do than focus on the creative process, and by the world’s standards, I guess I did: graduating, moving across the country, grieving the loss of a parent, getting married, and settling into life as a wife. Figuring myself out. Figuring the world out. You know, growing up.Mostly, I felt I needed to get my act together before I could spend precious margin time on a hobby. After all, how could my voice shape the world before the world had shaped me? My writing professors had told me most renowned authors didn’t publish their great works until the second half of their lives, anyway.

Let life happen to you, they said, then you’ll have something to write about. Then you’ll know something worth telling. So I resigned from the art that had lived inside me for so long, tucking away the pen and story for a more buttoned-up season. Onward and upward to taxes and resumes and craft cocktails, I thought.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of jobs in a lot of places: college campus minister, third wave coffeehouse barista, downtown executive assistant, nursing home activities director. And in each of these roles, behind every counter and in every cubicle, writing found me.When life pressed up against me, folding me in on myself and turning me toward the mess of light and darkness inside, words spilled out. But they had nowhere to go.

Without writing, I lived on the shores of my own life, confined to my own very limited definition of adulthood and maturity. But for me, living safe also meant compromising the very thing I had expected to magically happen to me. Life couldn’t sculpt or beautify me until I actually went inside it to face my own depths. Colors and songs and tastes and prayers just couldn’t truly happen to me until I wrote.

It took the jolt of a surprise pregnancy to push me back into the creative process. I started a blog as a way to process impending motherhood, and little by little, as I engaged with myself and my words, I changed. I started to see things differently: darkness as opportunity for light, emptiness as grounds for imagining, difficulties as roundabout paths toward beauty.


This piece was originally published with Ruminate Magazine. Click here to read the whole article.