I am sitting at my desk as I write this. From my window everything looks a bit bleak, bare, and grey. Even the sky looks chilly, pulling the clouds in close like a warm blanket. A few geese have just flown by, honking on their way to hopefully, somewhere warmer. Such is the way of a cold, January morning and what better a time to get to work and help you learn about writing close to the bone.
Winter’s energy is tranquil. It helps us to ‘chill out’ and slow down from our more active summer and fall months. With the lessened daylight hours, we become more withdrawn and the feeling of hibernating can become real strong. It’s also a great time to move any stagnant energy, to go on a cleanse, to start a new writing project, or learn something new – like writing raw and real!
What Exactly Is Writing Close To The Bone?
I like this term because it describes so well what it means to get to the truth of a matter. It should come out raw, real, and honest, and should have the power to move the heart of your readers. It’s most often those words we feel but are afraid to say and yet we don’t want to offer up our ‘vomiting onto the page’ to the public. With some editing, we can turn that brutal rawness into grace, eloquence, and something that has the capacity to touch and transform others.
Just this morning I wrote to a close friend in response to something deeply vulnerable they had shared about a part of their life. I’ll use this as the first example:
“Sometimes in life we cross paths with people who touch our hearts so deeply. Not so much because of their stories, (we all have those) but because of the way they’ve triumphed over adversity and pulled themselves from the ashes of ruin. Being human pretty much guarantees we’ll be scarred in some way, but I believe that abandonment, especially as a child, is the toughest wound to heal because it has taught us to abandon ourselves. It is the marking of some of the greatest Warriors and one of the roughest paths to walk in this world. Some make it, and some don’t, but those who do have learned to never abandon themselves again. We may cross the finish line bruised, beaten, and battered from all the mistakes we’ve made in an effort to ‘belong’ somewhere…anywhere, but the gold we’ve mined through it all is in finding that ‘belonging’ in our ‘true self’ – intact, whole, and ready for anything.”
Another Example for You
“When my daughter was born I became the wicked witch of the west. My utter disbelief and non-acceptance that the independent life I had cherished was now gone for good, literally rocked my world until I split open and let all the poison ooze out. I don’t know how I made it through those first two years of her life. She cried and cried and cried. She barely slept and neither did I. To write about it now reminds me of the dark hell of those days. I was diagnosed with postpartum stress, post traumatic stress disorder (from the challenging labor), extreme hormone deficiency, depression, and borderline anorexia. I went from 145 lbs at full term to 110 lbs by the time my daughter was 6 months old. And while it may be true that I was experiencing all of the above disorders, in hindsight, I now can see it was my own refusal to accept my life as it was happening in the NOW.”
The above is an excerpt from a published article called, Kids, that I had written for a magazine, and hopefully, you are beginning to see that the flavor of this kind of writing is not vanilla.
Being Intimate With Yourself Is Key
Writing real and authentically is having the courage to bare your soul, to rip your guts open and let whatever’s in there spill out. It’s about messy feelings, broken hearts, ecstatic bliss, sweet love, and poignant reflection but mostly it’s about being intimate with the deepest part of your being.
This is often a real uncomfortable place for many people, but if you want to be a writer, and a good one, and specifically, one who focuses on spiritual writing – then we must learn to brave those dark waters and dive deeply into our comfortably hidden fears.
It Takes Courage To Find Your Authentic Voice
“To live a life of authentic self-expression, fully utilizing my gifts as a writer and creative being was totally opposite to what I’d been taught by my family and so living a life of repressed creativity, and believing I could never earn a living or be fully supported and loved as an artist, became the underlying vibration of my whole existence. To be ‘me’ would equal giving up my role as the emotional caretaker of my mother. This would mean a complete loss of identity – something I thought I could never survive.” excerpt from my journal 2008 – (another example of writing close to the bone.)
When we give ourselves permission to dream the life that our Spirit wants for us, we somehow garner the courage to follow the vein of gold that will take us there. Mostly though, the mother lode at the end of that vein of gold is the dark mud and accumulated crud of all we’ve conveniently shoved away. It is also the home of the genius, creative, authentic voice of the soul, the voice that will become the master of writing close to the bone.
Getting Down and Dirty – The How To
Our inner wealth and sense of abundance lies in our ability to live and express authentically in our lives. Our truest treasure chest of all that is good comes from our capacity to move forward in life and to expand into all that we are meant to be. This requires an enormous amount of solitude, inner reflection, and chunks of time to just be alone doing nothing or also chunks of time alone in nature.
I’m sure you’re wondering how that is even possible if you are working 9 to 5 and have a family or other responsibilities!
What I can share with you from my own experience, is that if this is the road you are meant to follow, coupled with your deep desire for this to happen, then life will rearrange a few things for you although you might not like the rearrangement very much at first.
First We Must Learn To Live Close To The Bone
There is a ton of truth to the fact that you cannot write what you do not know, and so sometimes life will line things up in such a way as to give you the experience you need.
If you want to be a spiritual writer and learn how to write with deep honesty, then you have to be prepared to live close to the bone first. This may come as a lost job, a forced retirement, an illness, a financial hardship, a relationship change, or the loss of a loved one. It’s really anything that forces you to take a look at your life and at the same time, gives you a chunk of space to reflect and redirect your path.
To Be Continued…
“In the deepest part of my soul, I know that any amount of money, fame, or best-selling books won’t matter one iota at the end of my life. What will matter most is my relationship with Spirit, the people I loved, and how I used this precious life to help others know who they truly are.” – HF (example of writing close to the bone)
Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll share with you more about writing close to the bone, some steps to take to get you started, how to turn your raw journal writing into something publishable and more.
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