EPC — Allowing for Change

Rachel Vail’s “Permission not to have to be Mozart” really resounds for me. I have wrestled with the myth that, to write and let you read it, my thinking  has to be fully mature, complete, finished—and that five years from now, I’d agree 100% with what I wrote. There is something daunting about the permanence  of the written word. A phone call fades, even e-mail is more likely to be deleted than not. But a written  note can be taken out and read over and over again, over time. And it continues to speak from the person who wrote it—who I might not be in five years.

Annie G. Rogers, when  talking about writing  her memoir book, A Shining Affliction: Tales of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy, said that one of the most difficult tasks in the writing  was to go back to the person  she was when she was experiencing  this, and write from that voice. That’s one thing, memoirs. Somehow, change  in that  genre  is expected.

But, for me anyway, I have had to work at giving myself permission to grow in my writing. To begin with a piece that I know I will be able to improve on someday, but let it be read, let it go. I struggle with this concept in writing this book. Roni Natov, a professor at Union Institute

& University, told me, “Just do your best writing. It will change. You are still learning and will always be.” That helped.

Then I thought about the other arts—specifically, looking at Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. Her early pieces, in black and white, are very clearly early efforts with seeds of her later brilliance. Put an early sketch next to a wondrous  oil from the end of her career and step back. I can only have admiration  for where she began, and where she concluded.

So, I foster my courage and court inspiration  by tucking  an early O’Keeffe near my keyboard. And give myself permission to grow.


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