I am changing the well-known saying by Rene Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.”
I’ve decided writers require their own version. “I feel, therefore I am.”
The writing for my book’s third draft is all about emotional context and connection. The book is nonfiction, but it still requires the feeling connection with the reader. Without it, my words have no depth, and trusting them is questionable.
It’s no surprise to me that the first two drafts lacked emotional context. I am a master at masking my own feelings from myself. Thing is, this lack is a definite problem when writing a memoir that tells of healing through learning to open my heart.
We are all masters at sensing other people’s feelings. Often we call it intuition, but it’s really an emotional connection that runs below thought. From experience, I am aware how I trust the feeling of someone’s words more than I trust the words themselves. I can’t expect a reader to trust and connect to my story without also sharing with them the emotions that accompany it.
Sharing my emotions leaves me feeling shaky, naked, and vulnerable. Sharing them publicly is terrifying, but I am walking myself through the terror, and writing anyways.
I am not doing this alone.
I have my precious group of friends and allies who read my draft, allowing their truest selves to be vulnerable enough to offer me their honest critiques.
I have an editor, and we are forging a heart connection between ourselves and the story to create it true.
I have writers and artists who are mentors via their books and images. One and all, they walked a path of emotional vulnerability, and now they are showing me how to do the same. When I get too scared, I pull one of their books from my shelves and borrow their courage.
Walking willingly into vulnerability is terrifying. What surprises me is how grounded, open, and strong I feel after each writing session. Allowing myself to see, feel, and express my truest heart is strength, not weakness.
Allowing my vulnerability is strength. Opening the emotional connection is strength. Sharing the words that come of this is strength.
I feel, therefore I am.
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In case you were wondering, a few of my mentors include Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Dee Wallace, Tom Hart, and Brene Brown.