love what you love…and don’t be afraid to say it

New painting on MY ARTWORK PAGE

New painting on MY ARTWORK PAGE

I was listening to Stephen Kiernan, talk about his writing process this past Saturday, and was struck when he said that he was a much better re-writer than writer. It was only a passing comment but it was as if a megaphone was broadcasting this message just for me. I’d only ever heard one other person say that they enjoyed rewriting.

I asked him to elaborate and he talked about his writing process and how the fast and furious pace of getting ideas down on paper was his first step, but going back, re-reading, re-writing, adding, deleting, and shaping the writing, was his second, very enjoyable, step.

As I listened to him, an inner door opened. I began to think,”What if I can look at rewriting in a different way? What if I could stop thinking that it was a struggle?”

I’ve always cringed when artists lamented the difficulties of doing their art, and never thought I’d bought into the struggling artist archetype (nobly, or not so nobly, suffering, for their art) and suddenly I realized that I had…not about my painting, but about writing. I cannot count the number of times I’ve thought, “I love getting ideas down on paper, but I don’t like editing them.” And I believed that nobody else did either.

Life is made difficult by whatever beliefs I hold about it. It doesn’t really matter how those beliefs got planted in my mind. It doesn’t matter if 99.9% of writers believe that rewriting is a drag, it is my belief that will determine my experience of rewriting, and in that moment, listening to Stephen talk about rewriting, I realized that I was holding onto the belief it was a “necessary evil”.

This man’s casual comment was a life changing, belief challenging, event for me. All he did was to mention something that he loved to do and I began to think, “Maybe I can love it too.” I know the effect wouldn’t have been the same if he’d said, “You should enjoy rewriting” or even if he’d tried to teach/show us how to do it… if he didn’t enjoy it himself.

Several years ago, my mother told me that she liked grocery shopping. I never knew that about her, and had never heard anyone else say that they liked to grocery shop. I’d always looked at it as if it was a chore, but my view of it changed on that day and I began to enjoy it more and more. Years ago, I was complaining to an elderly nun about the brutally cold weather. I was sure she’d agree with me but she looked at me with the sweetest smile and said, “I love the winter. The colder, the better”, and now on bitterly cold days, I think of Sister Bernadette and smile.

It’s easy to talk about what is wrong, what or who we don’t like, our fears, suspicions, struggles, pains, and unhappiness…and there is a place for that, but oh what delight to hear someone talk about what they love. What good we can do for ourselves, and for untold others, when we simply acknowledge what we love.

Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.” Karl Menninger



19 thoughts on “love what you love…and don’t be afraid to say it

  1. A true breakthrough, Mary. And, in turn, you’ve gifted all of us with it. I’m grabbing this ball and running as far as I can with it in my own life. Can’t wait to see what changes I can bring about.

    Many thanks!

    P.S. I love your new painting!

  2. Dear Mary, what a beautiful post! I really needed to hear this today. As you said, there is a time and place for voicing frustration, but ultimately remembering and practicing what we love is the true path to happiness and inner peace. Thank you!

  3. What a warm and cozy feeling on a cold and damp day. Thanks Mary! I’ll toss my hat into the ring as well! I love chilly,rainy days.

  4. I love re-writing, too! After countless false starts and detours that mark my first draft (which I have grown to see as a game that often goes into overtime and not a burden), re-writing is like having a favorite dessert that someone else has prepared for me…sweet!

    • That is a very interesting perspective. I can already feel the change within me as I begin to look at a piece of writing that I’ve been putting off editing, and I sense some adventure waiting within the pages that previously felt “heavy”.

  5. I think of rewriting as refining – same way as a musician you keep practicing the same beautiful Bach Suite for instance, each day not only training the fingers to play more accurately, but with each practice, you find new things to say, nuances, shadings, things that you may express differently on a certain day because of the you that is bringing your self to that moment. Michaelangelo started out with a vast hunk of marble – he wasn’t rescuplting every day, but bringing to life something from a hunk of nothing. And it sure didn’t happen or get done overnight, never to be revisited. It is the process of giving ourselves to our art, or our cooking, or whatever it is that calls your spirit to hitch itself to the creative process. By its nature, it needs a re-application, a rewrite, a rescupt, another day’s loving attention. I loved this post Mary!

  6. Susan, so well put! I too appreciated this post so much, Mary. In recent times I see my piano practice, photography, writing (and cooking ,even ) as a process of shaping . Sculpting is another great word for something that is an enjoyable process that deserves a little more time, patience and attention to make it sing , say, or taste just the way you want to express yourself.. I start to view this attention to detail as a way to add emotion and feeling to my “work”, a way of reaching down further into myself.
    What a wonderful description you gave to how the speaker’s words captured your attention. How we all do appreciate the way you give voice to the feelings of the heart and mind in your writings .

    • I love the shaping and sculpting images. I truly have been moved into a new (and much more expansive) way of seeing rewriting, and I have Stephen, you (Bobbie), and all of the other people who so generously shared your own experiences of “crafting” our lives/work, with me since I posted this. I am SO HAPPY that I did. Now, instead of just knowing 2 people who enjoy/love the rewriting /editing process, I’m hearing from lots of creative spirits and my spirit is rejoicing!

  7. Mary, this was so helpful to me. Thank you for sharing these insightful thoughts. Lately I’ve tended to focus on things I didn’t like and not on the many things I do like and enjoy. It just seems easier sometimes to “crab”. But that blinds me to the good things in the very situation that I’m “crabbing” about. Thank you!

  8. Mary, I enjoy rewriting. But I have an awfully hard time putting my words on a diet. This gives me a chance to trim and trim however I am hardly successful, apparently I have a lot to say…!! I love fashioning sentences. Strange, eh…that’s the Canadian ‘eh’ as opposed to the American ‘huh’….
    Sandy P in Canada

    • Sandy… I for one enjoy reading your words, they have such a great conversational quality , spontaneous , acerbic laced with humor ! We can glean your personality ,and you often give us points to ponder with your unique perspectives. You don’t need a word diet … It wouldn’t seem like Sandy otherwise…..

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