Gosh, our minds adore problems, don’t they?
You know, things to chew on and ruminate about at 1 a.m., in the precious quiet hours that can become oh-so-loud.
The acute absence of problems in my life right now—well, this has somehow become a problem in itself. After years of working like hell to feel somewhat alright, I feel whole most of the time these days. After years of writing my heart out, I have finally compiled my poems and articles into a book.
And now, at this crescendo, in the center of this champagne celebration moment, fear grips me with icy hands.
I am afraid the words will dry up. I mean, now that I am not in constant agony, what the f*ck will I write about? Am I just done?
What happens when my parents read my book? Or my boyfriend’s mom?
Why do I feel so exposed? How come when people ask what my book is about, I stumble over my sentences and hardly know what to say?
Yes, that’s just a sample of this post-publishing vulnerability I’m feeling. It’s not all smiles and triumphant sweetness. It’s strange and otherworldly, like holding my book in my hands for the first time. Excitement swept through me like a wild, intoxicating wind, followed quickly by a smattering of numbness, self-criticism, and disbelief.
The predator lurks. Its weaponry is armored in swirling metallic thoughts, in problem-saturated narratives, in vague mental anxieties I can’t quite name that crawl under my skin like irritating bugs, biting me every now and then.
And yet, Wild Woman, the force of collective fierce, delicious, untamed femininity, she speaks to me through oils anointed on my skin, sharp and fierce, cutting through the fog of bullsh*t and thoughts that mean nothing in the end—
“You will never stop writing. There is lava in your bones. It’s the way you soak in the drapes of quiet and listen, as the songs of poems pour into your ears. It’s almost a sexual experience. Rapturous.
You can write about pain, yes. But you can write about anything. You will never stop. The passion flows, thick and wide. It flowers, the petals heavy and bright. You feel it, thick in your mouth like nectar. You taste it. You live it. You breathe it. You dance it. You cry it out.
Sweat drips from your brow and mixes with the tears. As long as you are alive, there is infinite possibility to create. It feeds you. You feed it to others. You speak it.
Stay close to the pulse of this art. To your heart. Don’t stray. You will never stop. The words, oh yes, the words—you can always return to.”
I don’t fully believe it. But distant, ancient parts of me do. I call them closer, crouch down in the grass, and feel fresh drops of dew on my legs.
As I’m ready to turn away, Wild Woman grabs my hand, locks eyes with me, and says there is more to tell me. She encourages me to dive into the depths of this sandpapery, skin-crawling vulnerability. And just sit there.
“Enough with the self-doubt. You’re a goddamn writer. Yes, your words are intense, full of your entire dripping heart. Own it. Stop lurking in the shadows. Be the full moon for once. It’s not too much. It’s who you are meant to be. It’s who you already are.”
Wild Woman, she doesn’t let us off easy, thank goodness. She wants us to own our damn creativity—instead of apologizing for it. Or worrying about it. Or hiding from it. She doesn’t give a sh*t about any of that.
As I consider this, not from the limiting frames my mind, but the vast landscapes that lie within us all—the fragrant desert blooms, jagged ocean cliffs, the unyielding resilience of the human heart, hidden cherry blossom blessings, sweaty sex, moments of revelation, I see the truth.
I see all that writing has helped me do: Listen to myself. Locate my voice. Trust my instincts. Sharpen my senses. Face not-knowing. Work through trauma. Connect with those who have faced similarly dark days.
This is what will keep me going. It’s not about likes on Facebook, my mental anxieties, or how many people buy my book.
It’s about the invisible, unnameable force I feel when I write: like I am touching, for mere moments, the vivid fire of life itself.
So I shall hunt stories for eternities, track fragments of them through time and space—through the past, present, and future. I will sniff their scent from a hundred miles away. I will cut them out of the sky, jump up to catch them in midair with the edges of my fingernails. I will sit silently, covered in a silky net of ocean mist, and let them come to me. I will seduce them, joyously, with the swivel of my hips and unabated desire in my eyes.
Because stories are healing. Because any art that we make—it means something.
It is soulful and wonderful, no matter what it looks like.
It slaps us awake.
It is a door to something submerged in mystery. A genuine way to connect—with ourselves, with each other.
It is healing.
It is f*cking important.
So I listen to Wild Woman’s whispers, and my eyes narrow in focus and determination, in excitement, like a wolf on the hunt—a woman who has shed her skin a thousand times—and might perhaps be half-wolf, feral beneath it all.
I growl and show my teeth.
I step up, in a new way.
My book is not the end. Yes, it is the end of something. But it’s the beginning of a thousand other things, an adventure unto itself.
Because growth never stops: it converges, diverges, and flows.
It dies in the dirt, blooms in too-hot sun and transforms into something else.
It shifts and softens and shimmies. It moves.
We never stop becoming.
We are not done.
I like that.
This piece was inspired by Women who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.