The Quiet Place In Which We Do The Work

Dear you,

A writer I admire recently suggested that we write with someone in mind, as if our work were a letter to that person, so here I am, writing to you.

It has been some time since we spoke. I have been off finishing degrees and getting married. I have spent a fair amount of time meditating. I took up running and yoga, though sometimes it’s more meditating than yoga or running, and most times it’s not meditating at all but sitting. Most times it’s reading quietly or drinking a beer or visiting a friend and all the time it’s reminding myself that I deserve to do any and either of these things however and whenever I want.

I have been writing. I have been writing more than I ever wrote when we were last speaking. You see, when we were last speaking, I had begun writing from a place of desperation.

I needed to be read, to be heard, to be loved. I needed validation that, at the time, could only come from the praise of another voice. And I had allowed that voice to grow into a dull roar that drowned out all other sound, especially the sound of my own thoughts, and especially the sound of my own self-love.

Louder and louder until all I could hear in there was static. A white noise of words that were no longer my own. One day, I managed to ask myself why it was that I wrote. First, the answer was that it was one of the only things I felt I could do well. Then, it was because it was something other people said I could do well. Last, the answer was that I no longer knew why I wrote.

And with that empty answer, I decided to hit the reset button.

What’s funny is that I thought that I would stop writing altogether. It was simply too hard and it required too much of me. Somewhere I had lost myself and couldn’t be found. My husband missed me. I missed me. So I did stop — for a few months.

I went to school. I focused on a new career, one that made me feel needed, valued. I visited friends. I tried, again, to start a garden that would inevitably fail.

Little things trickled in. There were some journals, all started and forgotten after the first entry. Notes on my phone where I kept odd occurrences and thoughts.

But then there was poetry. My grandmother died shortly after our last talk and it gutted me and still continues to do so today. I needed to tell her stories that had previously gone unwritten so I wrote them in small poems and kept them in a binder that grew and grew and grew.

Then, I started a book. At the time, it did not feel daunting — it felt natural. Like I had come home, and oddly enough, like I’d never left. I woke every morning way before the sun and wrote as many words as I could until it was time to shake off the fairy dust and go to my job. It wasn’t even a chore to wake up that early — I woke up buzzing, once again, with excitement. Every day felt better and truer than the last.

Another writer I admire recently said that when we’re doing our life’s work, our lives work. This is how I have felt these past years, sitting at my desk with the sun not yet up and the house quiet and nothing but the sound of my keyboard and the occasional murmur of my husband and cat still asleep in bed.

I don’t mind that no one is reading it. I don’t mind that no one waits for what I have to say. (Except for my critique group who I am beyond lucky to have found.) I am the only person who is waiting on me. In this quiet place, I am doing the work.

And in that work, there is joy. And in that joy, utter contentment.

I hope your time away has been spent just as well. But I would like to catch up. Which is why here we are, many years later and speaking again. I hope you’ll forgive the time away.

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