I’ve Been Holding Back

I’m always holding back. I hold back my writing, because maybe I’ll use it somewhere else someday. Maybe there will be a better time or place to put my words out into the world.

I hold back feelings of hope in a futile attempt to tamp down the potential for disappointment.

I hold back feeling joy, in an effort to stave off feeling sadness.

I hold back love. I’m not sure why I hold back love. I sense it has something to do with trying to keep chaos at bay. For me, love and chaos were once intimately linked. At the very least, I know I hold back love when my world is at its most chaotic. For example, whenever my youngest son’s health issues creep into the forefront of our lives, as they have this fall, I fold deeper into myself. My capacity to show love to those in my life declines. My life becomes singularly focused on trying to control the uncontrollable: my son’s health.

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Early morning ramble at the retreat.

I attended Kate Hopper’s Motherhood and Words writing retreat in northern Wisconsin two weeks ago. It was my fourth time attending this retreat and I always come away with new insight and new words. I’m still shaping some of the essays I started at that retreat and I’m mulling over the direction I received from Kate, other attendees, and my inner guidance: Overhaul your entire manuscript. Begin again. Rewrite it a fourth time. This time, actually retype the whole thing. I’m kind of resisting the direction right now. I know this because I started applying for editorial jobs. Wouldn’t it be better to be an editor again, rather than a writer, I ask myself. I ignore the writing contract that I made with myself last May, when I graduated with my MFA, when I agreed to let my “writing self” have a year before my “get-shit-done self” stepped in and told writing self to get a real job.

Even in my resistance, I’m still thinking about the rewrite and how it will be done, how the manuscript will be shaped so differently this time around. I’m reading about five other memoirs right now (not unusual–I live my life juggling numerous books). Reading to observe structure, more than to absorb content. That said, I’m sucking the marrow out of Claire Dederer’s Poser: my life in twenty-three yoga poses. I’ve come late to the Poser party, but am so glad I came.

Another bit of wisdom I brought back with me from Wisconsin is an idea that another writer shared. This writer shares a first name with me, so it’s only natural that her wisdom would resonate deep within. She told us she was trying to move from “ego writing” to “soul writing.” She described the difference. Ego writing resists going deep and, instead, slips safely along the surface. Soul writing, in contrast, dares to reveal the shadow side, dares to become all it can be. In other words, soul writing doesn’t hold back.

It feels scary to me, but I am going to watch for the places where I am holding back. In those places, once observed, I will ask myself if I can give a little more. I will take small steps until it no longer seems so scary to give myself to my writing, my loves, my life.

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The fog always lifts, eventually.

Like birds do, I want to enter each day with a feeling of abundance and generosity. I’m tired of living small; I’m tired of holding back.

 

 

About Heidi Fettig Parton

I hold an MFA in creative nonfiction from Bath Path University. I write at the intersection of ecological and spiritual issues; I also write about the common experiences that unfold across women's lives, including marriage, motherhood, work matters (and vocation), divorce, and sexuality. Oh, and poetry is my drug of choice.
This entry was posted in Begin again, Beginnings, Claire Dederer, Ego writing, Kate Hopper, Nature photo, Soul writing, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Angst, Yoga and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to I’ve Been Holding Back

  1. I humbly submit that there is only so long you can hold back; that eventually, your writer self will demand you put things on the page. Live large!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. portercarolyn says:

    Can’t wait to read words with your new living large voice! Or, I should say “more words” as this essay is a bird singing.

    Like

  3. aklotz2014 says:

    Gorgeous, important and what I needed to read this morning, wise woman. hugs, ann

    Like

  4. Live large my friends!! We can do it! I gotta revisit my writing contract! I keep saying oh when I’m settled into a new place or when I make sure all is well with the grand babies or when I have more time. The time is now

    Like

  5. katehopper says:

    I love this so much, Heidi, and I know you can do it! And as always, it’s an honor to spend time with you and read and listen to your words! xox

    Like

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