fierce wonderings (soLs)

A month ago I shared my notebooks and a little about my process on Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s blog, Sharing Our Notebooks. (It is a must-read and should absolutely be added to your blogroll!) One of the things that drives me as a writer (and a person) is questions. I’m constantly questioning, reflecting, and reconsidering. This is true for my writing life across genres and topics. Questions drive me. When questions become fierce wonderings, I enter a significant place as a writer.

Last December, my friend, writing buddy, and slicer, Ruth, gave me a notebook.

The moment I saw it, I knew I was going to use it to collect thoughts about Christmas. Someday (someday, someday, someday) I want to write a book that takes place during the Christmas season. I even added a quote to the opening page to guide my collecting.

And then in January my writing life was under siege. Everything moved down on the priority list — my current YA project, my professional book, my scrapbooking, my blogging — everything. Writing about the adoption of the girls, writing about parenting children who have a history without me, writing about my journey of being their mother, writing about who they are becoming, writing about the transitions, writing about healing…all of this sabotaged my previously effective and efficient writing life.

In fact, I waged a battle within myself to ignore the tugging to write about this area of my life. Finally, I caved and began writing. I didn’t know the genre. I didn’t know the audience. I didn’t know the purpose. I simply knew I needed to collect around the topic of Hannah and Stephanie and me.

I opened the notebook Ruth gave me. I needed to believe it was okay to be messy in my collection. I needed to know I could write close to the bones. I needed to trust I could write raw and it would be okay. A notebook from a friend was the perfect comfort.

It’s nearly full and I have a notebook from Tammy, another friend, writing buddy, and shy slicer (check out her blog!) that will continue my journey of writing about this part of my life.

The interesting thing is as I’ve written about this area of my life, I’ve gained clarity for my YA project, my keynote address for a conference this summer is shaking out, another professional book is percolating, and I’m more firm than ever on Mission Story.

I still don’t know if all of this collecting will lead to anything. I’m not “making” a genre. I can’t envision an audience. But the purpose…I’m getting it. All of this writing is for me. This is the best reason to be writing. I’m gaining insights. I’m being driven by fierce wonderings. I’m making sense of this little life of mine. And I’m healing.

Yes, this is the best reason to write.

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12 Comments »

  1. The power of writing journals! I love the phrase ” questions drive me”. I have often stated it as living in the question. You have given me a fresh start to my collecting of words and ideas. Here”s to happy spring writing!

  2. I love your final paragraph. Writing is very healing. I have several notebooks filled with a painful time in my life. It allowed me to process so that I could heal and be used by God to help others. I hope you find peace and direction for you, too.

  3. I love these lines: “I needed to believe it was okay to be messy in my collection. I needed to know I could write close to the bones. I needed to trust I could write raw and it would be okay.” And what you said about questions – I love questions. Maybe I'll write about that love.

  4. I had not seen the other blog before, so I am glad that you mentioned it. I absolutely loved your guest post. I always love glimpses into your notebooks. I remember when you mentioned that you were going to write more about this topic, and I have really enjoyed the glimpses into that aspect of your life that you have shared through your slices. It is interesting how it has provided clarity for other aspects of your life that you did not anticipate.

  5. I loved this post, Ruth. I think sometimes the most important writing comes when we are compelled to write – and then find the reasons later. Looks like you are doing what you are meant to do. Can't wait to learn more.

  6. It's wonderful to see you write the words of support for just writing and seeing where that path leads, sometimes an important part of your life you didn't know was a growing nugget. Thanks Ruth!

  7. Ruth, you say you need to 'write close to the bones'. That imagine sits with me, haunts me a bit as I think writing that is that raw does. I am glad you are find the space to get those things down on paper, to get the thoughts out of your head. I love that through His grace your planned work is sifting itself out in the meantime.

  8. I love the idea of “fierce wonderings”! I couldn't agree with you more that writing for ourselves does help us gain clarity about topics in which we deeply care.

    Best of luck writing about what is closest to your heart, and then letting your heart help guide you with all that other writing as well.

  9. Thought I commented on this last night, but maybe not. I hear you friend. I am feeling really compelled to gather the stories of our family as well. Your line “Writing about the adoption of the girls, writing about parenting children who have a history without me, writing about my journey of being their mother, writing about who they are becoming, writing about the transitions, writing about healing…” captures me, especially, I think, the part about the history without me, that part we will never fully know, but also the part, I think, that significantly impacts them to the very core of their being. Thank you, as always, for inspiring me on our parenting journey

  10. I am a firm believer in you write what you need…and you need to write about the girls and the life you are making with them. This is important now and will be important to all of you later. And I loved your title “Fierce Wonderings”. Should be the title of a book of some kind!

  11. Ruth,
    I know when I saw you at Dublin Lit you were in the middle of some writing. I wonder how you juggle your reading and writing with life. It seems to always be a challenge. This resonated with me, ” I needed to believe it was okay to be messy in my collection. I needed to know I could write close to the bones. I needed to trust I could write raw and it would be okay.”

    I've been in a bit of a struggle with my writer's notebook. Technology has moved me away from it. It hasn't been comfortable, it's just been what is. This challenge is really bringing me back to my notebook. My best pieces have been those I've played with in my notebook. I think you are right, it's helpful to have a place to write where you don't have to worry about how everything finishes on the page — a place where nothing is finished. A place to start to find our stories.

    Cathy