Saturday, October 29, 2011
What I Learned from the Transformative Process of Writing: Feeling to Write and Writing to Speak
Since signing up for the Transformation Authors and Mastermind Program, I knew I was in store for something good that would change my life. What I didn't know was exactly how my life would change.
Perhaps that is why the transformative process is so damn exciting - you go "in" expecting one thing or "thinking" one thing and then something else completely happens... and with different life forces!
In my case, as I wrote, everything I experienced whether it was meditation and connecting in stillness and quiet or recalling the silent "voice" of living in Israel, became the threads of the story. As I lived it, I was evolving and writing it - pretty cool, if you think about it.
This is what exactly happened when I wrote "The Best Time to Get in My Way," for the Anthology to be published in May 2012, "Pebbles in the Pond: Transforming the World One Person at a Time." By the time I finished the 20th draft version, I was transformed by the writing process - I was committed to the process.
And I noticed that many different levels peel and unfold at every stage. These levels didn't evolve sequentially, but sometimes all together. So I will identify those levels as a way to share with you what happened.
Level 1 - I start writing about transformation at the story level - how it feels to be an outsider living in Pittsbugh. My own story. I'm coming out. I share the "pieces" of my story that in turn, shape the reasons why I want to encourage other people to write their "pain stories."
Level 2 - I write my "story" through the eyes of a reader "pebble" - how writing our own "truths" and "pain stories" bring us closer to that "voice." At this stage of writing, the "concept of "voice" is a bit nebulous. I know it has something to do with finding a deeper connection, but it's more than that. It's up to me to find out so I write some more. As I'm deepening my message, I think more clearly, "What is it about finding my voice in a voiceless world" that brings a stronger connection. I ponder some of these answers in my meditations each morning waiting for the answers to sink in.
Level 3 of Transformation: I make the subtle but powerful connection to meditation and weave this into "part of my own story of transformation." I write that one needs to emotionally heal before moving forward. There are many nights and days that I cry. I cry for the "voiceless child" and I cry for the emotional and social isolation I feel as an outsider coming to Pittsburgh. I still feel this way. A lot.
Level 4 of Transformation: I'm intent on answering the questions for my beautiful "pebble reader" - How can the "voice of my story" serve you? How can I guide you dear "pebble" reader? How can I encourage you to write the voice of your own pain story?
On our last masterheart call, Christine Kloser, my transformative mentor and catalyst of this journey, gave us important tips for connecting to the reader. I go one step further and write letters to the reader - telling him/her how much I appreciate the journey and understand the process and I ask him/her questions and this helps me get "into his/her head."
For the last few weeks as I'm writing, I try to not get too bogged with recording the details, and I'm really make sure I'm honoring the story and my message of what needs to be shared. But there are so many elements of the story that are part of "ONE STORY," that it's hard to honor them all at one go.
By the last week of October 2011, I have written almost 25 drafts for a 1500 word chapter. But still, I feel like something's still missing. I am determined to find the piece I need to truly connect to my reader and myself.
And then, on Thursday, October 27th, I listen to a meditation about emotional healing presented by DavidJi from the Chopra Center as part of a meditation bundle I had purchased after completing the summer 2011 meditation challenge.
I am feeling worn-out with mid-semester blues. I don't want to look at another student's essay. I am particularly in need of love and self-care. I'm in need of face-to-face friendships. (This is my new goal) I cannot sustain myself with just online ones anymore especially when I'm in that "dark" moment. I'm beginning to think that finding a Kindred Spirit in my area is hard because of how busy I am and have become. I begin to open my heart for answers.
So in the middle of my morning at the university where I work, I listen to this meditation. I had never done anything like that before. Something about it strongly grabs my heart:
David Ji says that the reason why we have been emotionally hurt is because as a result of the pain, we haven't been expressed our needs and desires adequately enough to those around us. He gives a few guiding questions which I quickly write down.
1.Is there a need that is important to me that I have not expressed? (very conscious way)
2.How do you feel? What's that emotion inside?
3. Then state that need that is the cause of that feeling.
4. We make a request for a specific action.
On the afternoon walk all the way home from the bus stop, I think about the people who have hurt me and who I may hurt in return. I write to the one closest to me, a letter. I realize that there is probably not a lot that I can do to change this person, but after a good cry and some words, I feel much better. I remember what Christine Kloser says about "having a good cry" in one of the mindset emails I get.
I connect deeply (more cries) and realize that the voice of my heart needs acknowledgement. That's it! All my life, I've walked through life with a "thinking mind." I've made decisions entirely in this way nd not from a "feeling heart."
So what do I want the reader to know after reading this chapter. And how is this part of my transformation?
I write at the top of the page:
What the reader will get from reading this chapter: Listen to the voice that will allow you to feel.
Yes! Yes! Yes!
By the time I pick up my son, I am so tired from teaching, meditating, grading and writing and thinking - I just want to disappear - wisk myself away to an island and a beautiful sunset but I feel empowered by this new "finding" that I just go on. I grab my beautiful but tired son and we head for the neighborhood bus to take us to a hospital to use the gift certificates my husband got when he donated blood the past few times to buy dinner at the cafeteria. We get our hamburgers and french fries and grilled chicken burgers, which is not my husband's or my way. Daddy is the cook at home and we hardly eat french fries. But it's comfort food for both of us, and my son likes it. He's happy, so I give in.
With these new "heartfelt eyes," I weave into the story the very next day, the part of the heart and revise. I read it just once, twice and three times more send it happily off to the editor.
Yes! I finally now understand the "voice that has allowed me to feel." This awareness in itself, is life-changing/shaping. I am on a high because I know that from this place, I will always be able to reach higher levels of transformation and connect more deeply with my reader/myself.