Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Burn Within

How do  you know?
How do you know when you have found the 'stuff' you want to write about? I have been asking myself that question a lot lately. I don't necessarily mean the genre, but I guess that could be apart of it. I guess I want to know what it is that tells you that you have hit on a story that is incredibly important.  Because lately, I have this burn... 

Inside I have this massive feeling of an ache so deep it simply has no words yet. My eyes feel heavy with tears that have no known cause and I find myself praying things like, 'Lord burn my heart with the stories that burn your heart, because I want to write what matters to You."

The Words
I was speaking with a woman last night about the space that I pull my writing from. It is a place of both vulnerability and strength, a place of not knowing, but needing to see. There is no internal editor present when I write from that place, there are no harsh voices telling me to turn around. It is a place that quivers and groans within. In my mind I get the tail of an image and when I pull, feelings follow and  intensify into words and grow on the pages as I write.  I can't escape from that kind of writing. I have tried. I can ignore it for a time, but eventually I find myself sitting down to let the stuff within pour out. 

Sometimes I wonder what's wrong with me. Surely not all writing is this organic? Maybe I am doing this 'writing thing' all wrong? But then I feel that burn...

I find the more I care for myself, the more I can open my heart up to hear the pain in this world and the more I want to write about it. 
I used to hate non-fiction works.  But then I went and wrote an memoir! And you know 'they' say that you should read at least something in the area you write. But until now it has been too much for me. Almost as if other people's hurts and joys flooded my soul and left me gasping for space to breath. Now I find I have some space. This place deep within that I pull words from that is now hungry to hear what other's have said in their writing.
That burn within seems ready not just to write, but to read, in a way I couldn't before. 

The Books
I have in my hot little hands two amazing books that I have picked up in the last two days. 
Still Alice by  Lisa Genova who asks the question, 'What if you were to lose every memory you every had?' The novel is based on the true story of 'Alice' a 50 year old professor and her war against the rapid and aggressive early onset of Alzheimer's disease.  

The other is a book closer to my heart. 
Today I'm Alice by Alice Jamieson is a raw and gripping memoir the shattered memories of her past abuse and the missing hours of her life that she can't account for. She describes her raging against the voices in her head that become full blown personalities and then at twenty- four she is finally diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder.

I am half way through both of these books, not able to set either one aside to finish the other first. No doubt I will have them both read by this Friday. I'm Still Alice will be  my Friday non-Fiction pick, so I'll post more then.

Until then, I wanted to encourage all the writers out there some of who are now reading my blog ( I am humbled) to keep writing what matters to you. Because ultimately I think these stories a place on our hearts for a reason. 

Your Words and Books?
So writers, what burns within? Do you ever find yourself writing stories you know you can't keep locked away?  And readers, ever find words that seep into your soul from the books you have read? Words that won't let go?



  1. What a beautiful, beautiful post. I completely understand that burn you are talking about. My writing is at its best when I listen to that burn. I think its the Holy Spirit. And I love your line, 'Lord burn my heart with the stories that burn your heart, because I want to write what matters to You." I think I'm going to quote you on my blog on my sidebar with all the quotes. Yep, that one is too good to pass up.

    Excellent post today Tab!!

  2. WOW...makes me (complete non-writer) want to pick up a pen. Telling the stories of life is truly a great gift that I am very in awe of, great post.

  3. Thank you, Katie. I am glad I am not the only one who feels that burn when I write. I was beginning to think maybe I was just a bit 'left field' :)

    Thanks Matt for jumping on the blog. I don't know if you can call yourself a complete non-writer. I read your 'engage emails' every week. How many people do they go out to world wide now?! :)
    I am just glad I don't re-write your assignments anymore!

    Your thoughts mean the earth to me. Can't believe you are in awe of anything I write. Thanks for the encouragement :)

  4. I've had that burn but lately my own memories keep getting in the way so I decided to quit ignoring them and have begun writing everytime something surfaces trying to get past them. Thanks for the post and I'm glad I found your blog.

  5. Welcome comfortwriter, glad to have you on the blog. Writing my memories and trauma is what started my 'burn' within. But I think I have always been a writer. I think it's great that you are processing your own memories. Keep on pressing on :)