How Vulnerable Should an Author Be?

My original topic for this insight post was supposed to be related to asking for and receiving supportive feedback for your writing. Try as I might, I just didn’t feel inspired to write about this subject. That rough draft copy still waits for my attention, a few bullet points on a page, but this morning when I woke up, I thought, “Why don’t I just write about what’s really on my mind?”

I keep learning, time and again, that I can’t force the writing to go where there’s no energy. I was recently reminded by Natalie Goldberg to “follow the writing”. This means to start with a prompt or an idea, and then get out of the way… “let writing do writing.” So, in that vein, here’s where my writing energy wants to take me: vulnerability as a writer.

Vulnerability? Why does vulnerability matter in writing? To be vulnerable means to connect with your audience and let them know it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Social media seems to focus on how well we’re all doing. If you want to show a more honest, less squeaky-clean version of yourself in your writing, regardless of the medium, you may struggle with how much of your difficult moments to reveal. One of my mentors talks about sharing “well-digested experience”, rather than the raw emotions of a difficult time. That guidance has served me well.

As a writer, and mentor, I’m often walking an edge: “How much do I share with my writing community?” Today I want to share what’s making it hard for me to be productive, to get even the simplest tasks completed. Why the functional tasks, like grocery shopping, cooking, basic cleaning, are falling by the wayside. Let alone anything creative. On my priority rating scale, writing is lower on the list, which makes it challenging to get my projects completed. I look at a date on the calendar and then walk away. “Can’t do that right now.” I decide. “I’ve already made supper. That’s all the creative spoons I have for the day.”

What’s affecting my creative spoon level? The personal “biggie” is my husband going through his third round of chemotherapy for chronic leukemia. How the promised “gentler medication” is still affecting his body-mind in familiar ways: very little energy, “chemo brain”, pain in the joints and more. My husband has been asking some profound questions which resonate long after the words have stopped: “How much longer can I do this?” “If there are other interventions offered, could I say yes?” “If there was more chemo required, would I be able to go through this one more time?”   

How vulnerable can I be?

My husband and I been having conversations about quality of life versus extending life, and what we value most. My heart-mind is holding these questions with a sense of curiosity, imagining his reality. I’m deeply affected as I witness the impacts of chemo treatment on my partner. I don’t want to stay numb as a coping strategy, and it’s painful to be present to what is. My creative spoons are used up in the act of witnessing with compassion, honoring the journey we’re on.

I am choosing to share with the intention of normalizing any experience you may be having that blocks your writing process. I haven’t even mentioned events on the global scale – those are deeply impacting my energy as well. What I can say is that these are difficult times to be a human being on the planet, so please, go gently. Find places of respite, whether it’s in nature, listening to music, meditative silence, or having tea with a friend. Reading a book that reminds you of the beauty of being alive, even in the difficult times. We are on one wild and precious ride. May you create moments of peace and connection that nourish your spirit.

Creatively Yours,
Image of Marie leaning against a pillar holding a coffee cup

marie

l love hearing from my readers!

If something in this newsletter inspired you, send me a note at marie@mariemaccagno.com.
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5 thoughts on “How Vulnerable Should an Author Be?”

  1. Thank you for demonstrating the power of vulnerability in this very post on the subject, Marie. Wow. Thank you for sharing your story, your experience, your kindness…your divine humanity. I hope your “creative spoon” was even a bit replenished by your offering us a glimpse of your and your husband’s struggle together, even adding in the salt of the world’s current woes, in the spirit of profound love, truth, and generosity. May the elusive spark of life–that which science cannot measure nor contain and yet that you invoke/evoke with your inspired, skillful words–continue to ground you, comfort you, and strengthen you. We, your readers, stand with you hand-in-hand, all of us celebrating our connection with each other within the impermanence, consciousness, and gratitude that creates all reality.

  2. Thank you Marie for your wise comments. I agree that we can be hard on ourselves and forget that we only have so much energy, that oftentimes that energy needs to go elsewhere than writing, that the energy for writing will return in its own time. I appreciate your sharing your present experience and send you my good wishes.

  3. thankyou for this Marie
    something in me relaxes as I read your comments.
    walking in the forest
    watching the flowers pop up
    and shedding a few tears as I go
    often feels like all that I can offer
    and I don’t have the challenges you are facing every day with your beloved
    many blessings
    much gratitude for the connections with each other you offer

  4. Hi Marie, I hear you, I understand. Thank you for sharing your life experience as it is now, and your words of self compassion. As you have said all we can do is be with the presence of the moment. Being with what is as best we can be often allows opportunity for greater gifts, perhaps even creativity showing up as guidance and direction.

    I love seeing your nature photos on Facebook, what a good way for nurturing, I share that with you.

    If you ever what to get together for a walk or cup of tea, to just be, debrief if it shows up, I am here.

    Blessings and love to you.

  5. I just wanted to tell you that, even before I read your “biggie”, I was thinking how grateful I am to have you in my life. You are so generous and kind sharing your processes, your experiences, your wisdom.

    I am sending you and Rob all good energy

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The Writing Feedback Guidebook

How to Ask For & Receive Helpful, Supportive Feedback on Your Writing

Not all writing reviewers are created equal! When you hand your carefully crafted pages to someone to provide feedback, the result is often unhelpful & at worst, can be crushing. This FREE guide will help you choose insightful, supportive readers. It will also teach you how to ask for what you need and want from them to continue honing your writing with confidence.