Writing: A Raw & Naked Endeavor.

Photo by @steadicamguy for @GirlOnFireArtwear

THIS PICTURE. Do I need to say any more? Fellow writers, you get this, right?

Oh boy, this photo gutted me. It's of my friend Angelica, who I've been teaching hot yoga with for years (I adore her yoga clothing line Girl on Fire Artwear - check it out!). This photo hit a nerve when I first saw it last week. It depicts EXACTLY how I feel when I write — and also after I show my agent, a publishing house editor, or friend, any of my prose. Writing fiction is a personal endeavor.

As I write, and especially this past week for some reason, I am stripped down, raw. There's no attempt at pretense. Any facade, or role I can hide behind, vanishes. All my defenses fade. The world disappears. I am connected to this story, these characters, and honoring their vision, thoughts, feelings, experience. It is innocent. It is naked.

I'm working on another book right now. And while two of my novels are being reviewed by publishing house editors , I type away each morning on vignettes that seem to come from the ether. I have to keep busy. I can't think about, or talk about, the editors who are reading my novels. Rejection is a part of the process that career writers have to shrug off in order to keep going—but it's never easy.

So, I keep busy writing more stories, it's what I do. Some are inspired by dreams, others through meditation, others from characters that show up and demand to be heard and who speak in ways that I wish I had the strength to do so—and I try, for them. Every line is tender with emotion, fraught with tension and passion or sorrow or longing or fear or love or joy. Sometimes I think characters appear to me as if giving me their dairies and then declaring: "Here you go. Now you know everything. Show them. Make them feel something for my story."

For instance, last night my dream was interrupted by a voice saying firmly: "Get Up. Write this Down." So I got out of bed, grabbed my pad and pen and heard: "Forgiveness is a four letter word: L O V E — and it's wrapped around a middle finger." I wrote it down, and then when its message sunk in, I looked up into the mirror across from my bed, and acknowledged my surprised face, my naked body, my hand holding a pen that was starting to shake. I thought "Woah. She's so pissed." And that's how it can start. ...

And that's how Lucy, the protagonist of my next novel, feels. I understand her. Isn't it true? We want to forgive. We know we are supposed to. Good people do. So, we strive to forgive. But often, those feelings of resentment, or anger, or victimhood creep in when we aren't vigilant. And our EGO screams that the jerks deserve our anger. But isn't freedom more important? It isn't always rational is it? Intellectually we know that instead of plotting revenge, or hoping the person feels bad, or is living a shitty life, that it is morally better to wish them well. But it doesn't come on a default button of LOVE. It's a choice that is worked on. It takes time to get to the place where a deep breath can be taken, then the choice to walk away is made and then finally the ability to give thanks for the lessons, and dare to start over. In the end, it's about freeing out minds and hearts.

FREE. That's another four letter word. It's been my mantra for ten years.

So how do I honor this character's experience and her need to express her anger and her rightness and her justification for her hatred and her need for revenge, when I've worked so hard to embrace peace, freedom, and joy? We are in different places. But maybe that's precisely why I should write her story? Maybe my job is write about all the reasons for her anger, and her pain, in order to tell her story as a bridge for others to cross to foster more compassion and understanding for those in their lives they refuse to forgive? ... I don't know. I'm still figuring it out.

But damn, ever since the encounter, I keep thinking about how I rather prefer the word F R E E over LOVE.

Think about it. FREE just feels good to say, doesn't it? Energy, like light, flows through my veins at the sound of the word FREE. To be free, is to have hope and faith you will smile again. Free means, there are no rules, so you can dare to love again. Freedom gives you the divine right to shun the opinions of well-meaning 'others' and to live your life exactly as you choose. It means the person(s) who hurt you and tried to dim your light didn't win. You're free to laugh again. You're free to feel good. You're free to live gratefully. You're free to have fun again. You're free to be hopeful and trusting and to attract those on your wavelength. The word has wings. It's childlike. It's innocent. It's playful. And it's a Hell of a lot better than embracing L O V E through the lens of abusers who define it like a chain wrapped around a middle finger with a silent, yet firm, intent for harm.

Just food for naked thoughts.


Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Laura K Roe is the pen name for Laura Roe Stevens, a freelance writer and editor who has contributed to: The New York Times, Inc., Forbes, Fit Pregnancy, Parenting, Parents, Variety, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal & Constitution Sunday opinions page and others. 

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