Breathing Again

You see the smile that's on my mouth
It's hiding the words that don't come out
And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed
They don't know my head is a mess
No, they don't know who I really am
And they don't know what
I've been through like you do

-- Brandi Carlile, "The Story"


There is a phrase (or variation thereof) which I have been given time and time again, over the last half decade or so, a phrase so often repeated by friends and perfect strangers that it is too numerous to count:

"You have such a way with words -- have you ever thought about writing?"

And when I receive these words -- mind you, always as a compliment and an encouragement -- I've felt a deep, very hopeless heartache. 


Because I was a writer.  I did write.  I not only thought about writing, I wrote like the dickens -- for decades.  About people and self and stories, thick literary overtones littered with the occasional madness.  Exactly like a properly proper writer.  

You see, when I was ten years old I had a dream:  to be a published author.  Nearly fifteen years later, I started a blog, back before blogs were a Thing, and with it I had a fairly decent following.  I graduated college with a dual B.S. in English and psychology, my Senior project being a full-immersion with a literary professor who personally guided me through the dark and mysterious waters of editing and publication -- ostensibly so I would be well-versed in how to finally be "a real writer".  And I wrote a novel, dozens of short stories, placed well in writing contests, and received lots and lots of wonderful feedback.

But also, heartbreak.

My novel was never published, despite my best efforts, and when my dad died in 2009, something bigger than my frail abilities fell over me, smothering me.  The words dried up.  The desire for words dried up too.  I laid aside my pen with no intention nor expectation of ever picking it up again.  My heart was completely broken.

I began a journey toward healing when I picked up a camera ... and that's how I wound up doing photography -- which makes perfect sense since photos are simply stories of a visual nature.  I did well in that creative field;  I still enjoy using my camera to create art and further capture moments that would otherwise be lost in the ephemera of time -- will continue to enjoy photography and creating visually because it is now a piece of me --

but still


They've been my constant.  Such simple things: curves with connected dots and sticks in various stunted heights, nothing more than vague black symbols with associated meanings, never the same depending on who or what circumstances observes them -- but oh the soul to be found in each and every word!  There's never been a day -- even when I consciously put aside such things with hardened intention -- that words have not been my saving grace.  They are the air in my lungs, the lifeline tethering my flesh to the spirit pulsing inside.

And every time I made a comment on a Facebook status or sent an e-mail or a thank you note or did anything of any sort which involved heart-laced words, I would hear it again and again and again -- like a beating drum ... or the insistent whisper of the heart pumping hot blood through laced veins:

"You have such a way with words -- have you ever thought about writing?"

write, Lauren

(( write ))

For the longest time I refused.  The pain was too heavy, the defeat too overwhelming.  Then, I refused out of a sense of anger and defiance over past failures and a grief so thick it clung to me like a choking tar.  But after a while it became impossible to ignore.  See, when you are nudged, however gently, toward the edge of a precipice, at some point you realize you will fall -- or soar.  At some point you realize God is offering you the very wings which are vital to your soaring.

So it is with wide open excitement (and, I must admit, nervous anxiety), I write these next words:

I'm writing again. 

Not just here (though, yes, that too -- so many ideas I haven't the time to share them here with you all!), but Real Writing.  With broad topics and chapters and research and everything.  I'm working on a deeply personal project, an idea I had many years ago but which wasn't quite ripe enough for the plucking.  But now is the perfect time, ripe as it is, ready to be sliced open, juices spilling out, all fresh and sweet and life-giving.

I want to thank every single one of you who voiced God's urging, even when you didn't know you were doing it.  By simply reaching out to me in love, you put me back to rights again -- piece by delicate piece, reminding me of my nature and higher calling.  I can't thank you enough.  I'm writing again.  I'm breathing again -- truly and properly filling my lungs with intoxicating air and exhaling relief-suffused purpose and joy.  And that is everything to me.


Thank you.