Wiping the Slate Clean

Life has a way of becoming terribly busy on you even when it seems like nothing is happening, and when it appears you're moving painfully slow.

That's been my experience lately. I turn around and it's been two months since I've posted on the blog and really gotten a chance to touch base.

Well, first and most important in my heart: I've been writing. Without question, anytime I disappear from the blog it means I'm writing harder, working toward a self-inflicted deadline, or overwhelmed with the quantity of work I want to do but can't get my body to run without sleep.

I've also been doing critiques for my writing group, which takes its own amount of time to do well and helpfully. If writing is my baby, the critique group is my stepchild; these are the people that will pull me out of a burning building with their words and I would do the same for them--they cannot be neglected.

In the process of incorporating their notes about my chapters into my chapters, I had an epiphany and this is the nugget of wisdom I wanted to share that started this post in the first place.
As I sift through the critique group's notes and suggestions of my chapters, I delete what I've used as well as what I've decided not to use. I cut away the comments of praise and the discussions of what I should be doing that I'm not with regard to my story. This process takes lots of time, and thick skin. Very thick skin.

In the end I'm left with a blank page where all of their insight used to be and the only thing left is my story and my choices. Like monks who labor to place colored sand into intricate designs to create mandalas, in the end they wipe the sand away and leave. Yes, the mandala was beautiful, but you must wipe it all away to move on from anything and start fresh.

In the end you let go of it all, you delete the praise, you delete the criticisms, and you just stand there and let yourself be what is left. The key is to realize and fully embrace the idea that you--being the only thing left--are enough to work with.

You can't hang on to the bitter comments or the doting praise. It all has to go in order for you to process your life and grow from it. Absolutely, the insight of others can help guide you as the critiques from my group guide my writing and steer me back on the road sometimes, but when it comes down to it you'll need to wipe the slate clean in order to be able to see what's waiting for you up ahead.

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