They say to write well, you just need to write one true sentence.
Actually, let's be real for a moment. Hemingway said that. They just like to repeat him — a lot.
I've been thinking about his statement lately. Probably because I've been trying to find my way back to this space. My one true sentence eluded me for weeks, and then months. I wanted to write, and I did. I'm currently in the midst of sharing some behind-the-scenes-decision making in my Letters from the Creative Underground, and I started writing on my memoir again after an epiphany of direction.
But that didn't explain why I couldn't write here. And really, I'm not quite sure I'll even be able to get out what I need to say. Right now, my one true sentence sounds like a groan in the back of my throat.
So here's the truth: a few years ago I stepped off a train. I did it willingly and with intention. It was not the train meant for me — not then. I needed another one. I knew this intuitively, and so I left. I gathered my things and said my goodbyes and jumped off at the nearest station.
And now I don't know how to get back on.
We sat around a table with buckets full of sharpies and boxes full of colored pencils. One of us was coloring. One of us had her computer open. I was the one looking over her shoulder, reading the descriptions.
"That one," I pointed. The description had her written all over it. My eyes would dart to the other descriptions and I would avoid reading them fully, focusing on her.
"You think?" she asked, writing it down in her notebook.
I would nod, and give my reasoning, the pit in my stomach growing by the minute. It was a familiar feeling by now — one I welcomed like a friend.
Hello, Missed Opportunity. I didn't think you'd stop by today.
"I wish you were going!" she said, pointing to another one, the one I was actively avoiding. "I mean....look!" Her eyes grew wide and she'd turn to me, smiling.
I could only grimace and shrug my shoulders.
"I know. Trust me. I'm more than a little jealous." Then I would smile. "But this is going to be amazing for you. I can't wait to hear about it. I'll just live vicariously through tweets."
And so I did. I am. And every single moment I am remembering the last time.
The call came late, around 10pm. For some reason, Russ and I were already in bed. Maybe watching TV?
"Oh my goodness, Elora. It was amazing. I can't believe you didn't go."
A brief pause. The tilt of my stomach.
"I know. I should have been there. But we're moving and well....you know."
"Yeah. I know." (She didn't) "It's okay though." (It wasn't.)
Two months later, I would know how unokay it was, really. And five months later — well five months later the proverbial shit didn't just hit the fan, it got smeared on all of the walls and carpet.
So now, now when things are circling back and there's a cemented feeling of truth and rightness in me being here all over again, I have to admit that I feel a little dizzy and a lot out of place.
Time is weird like that. You make a decision, and it will always come back to you. The truth can serve as a beacon, but it can also brand you. It's heated like that — it leaves a mark. And so in any moment you are both here and there. You are in the decisions you made last decade and you are in this moment of declaration.
Another true sentence: sometimes, I feel like there is not enough room for this type of flexibility within creativity. Perhaps it's just me. I have the tendency to get so disillusioned that I not only walk away for a spell, I cut it out of my life completely. This is what happened a few years ago.
I got so tired of the pointed fingers and yelling and what are you going to say about THAT COMMENT?! that I just kind of awkward moonwalked out of the room.
"See ya never, Christian blogosphere. I'll be over here in the corner with my art journal and scandalous fiction."
So what happens when the sacred starts to blend with your art again? What happens when every creative chord being plucked internally points to spiritual formation and wrestling with the grittiness of faith?
I can tell you what happens. You stop writing. You stop writing because when you jumped off that train everything about this reality became a foreign land. It's a language I can feel and know, but one I am so hesitant in speaking because it's changed. The verbs don't sound like verbs anymore. The dialect has a different tone. The syntax feels strange on my tongue.
I do not know how to form those sentences anymore. I do not know how to go back when everything I know is pushing me forward.
And maybe that's the entire point. Maybe there needs to be a space where you can push and pull and move and breathe and change your mind and come back again knowing that everything changes, but our core does not.
Maybe the language feels foreign because I am changing — all of my years and stories pressing into my bones and creating something all together different. Something that will feel familiar to this dusty soul feeling a little left for wear.
A train whistles in the distance. I gather my things, now thick with the dirt of experience and doubt made right again, and smile.
Maybe the land isn't so foreign after all.
Letters From the Creative Underground
Writing is more than articulation, it's allowing yourself the space to hear the truth that you have something to share. Letters from the Creative Underground is the fuel you need to remember the truth: you are a writer. You have a story.
And we desperately need to hear it.
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