Writing with baggage
I have been thinking a lot lately about the challenge of writing with baggage. We all carry some with us; some using it for their eventual destruction, while others use it for their ultimate good.
Then I watched Kelly Clarkson perform her song Piece by Piece on American Idol this week. I haven’t watched Idol in quite some time, but everyone’s reaction to her performance on social media piqued my interest. Check out the hyperlink above and watch if you haven’t seen it yet, oh, and get a tissue.
Maybe you had a picture perfect life and watching someone publicly confront and deal with their baggage doesn’t affect you, but if you are like me and millions of others out there with trunk loads of crap from their past stored neatly away in orderly compartments, she stopped me cold.
Letting it go
I was humbled by her ability to let it out. In a recent Glamour Magazine interview, she said she still couldn’t sing the song the entire way through without breaking down, and she didn’t quite make it in this attempt either. Maybe parts of the story are still trying to stay safely tucked inside. I can’t help but imagine the space within her, though, that is freed up every time she sings this song out loud. Opening that dark space up is the only way to make room for the good stuff that life brings.
As someone attempting to find their voice in writing I have struggled most with finding a place that sounds authentically like me. Sometimes I write things and they are shiny and pretty, following the prescribed formulaic steps that someone else has laid out but I don’t see myself in the words.
I find myself writing things, then hesitating, thinking “What would (fill in the long list of blanks) think?” How will this affect my kids, my parents, my siblings, my neighbors, my friends, my co-workers, my clients? This is where the self censoring begins. How do you ever balance respect for others in your world with the need to make peace and come to terms with your truth? How do we get over our issues if they never see the light of day?
Journaling has always helped me with release of energy from my past, but it is still kept somewhat hidden and private. Maybe this is why I feel the need to write so strongly, as a way to get rid of some baggage and make room for the good stuff yet to come. As I embrace midlife, I don’t have time or desire to do it any other way.
Thank you Kelly Clarkson for reminding me that I’m ready to free up some space myself.