Keeping It Real

Please bear with me as I bare a little bit of my soul today.  I’ve been thinking about why writing came back to me after so many years away.  There’s a clear reason for it and sharing pieces of that story here will help me to find my voice as a writer.  I hope this meets with kindness and understanding.

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I’ve written posts before about my journey to authenticity and openness (see here and here).  It’s not an easy choice, letting people in.  Or at least it hasn’t been easy for me.  I spent years hiding behind masks and walls, determined to be someone I wasn’t, certain that acceptance would come in the form of conformance to other people’s standards.

I denied God entry into my life because I didn’t think He cared.  The ego in that horrible choice still stuns me.

I pursued “happily ever after” with a vengeance, choosing to marry one man because I didn’t know how to end a relationship that wasn’t working, because I wanted to say I was married.  The second marriage was founded on a strong friendship more than love but friendship wasn’t enough to make it last, particularly when I was still trying to be someone I wasn’t.

I came out of my second marriage appalled at how horribly I’d failed. I’d been appalled at myself before, but this time, oh my, it was devastating.  And it was life-changing.

All I ever wanted growing up was to be the ephemeral “happy”.  Defining it was difficult, which undoubtedly contributed to my inability to find it, but when pushed into a corner, I defined “happy” as “married”.

My definition is different today.

Today, “happy” means keeping it real.  It means tearing down the walls, throwing aside the masks.  It means loving oneself, and believing in that love so deeply there is never any question again, which opens us up so we can be open to loving someone else.

Most importantly, it means letting God back in.  As it turns out, that was the easiest step.  He was there all along, waiting for me to come back to Him.  I sobbed like a child that day, two years ago, when that epiphany struck.  Just the memory of that moment brings tears to my eyes as I write this.

Such a burden had been lifted.

A few months following that revelation, I had another one.  A friend commented on how real I’d been when talking with his teenage daughter who was going through a difficult time.  I didn’t know what he meant, so he went on to explain that I presented this tough exterior to the world, but that I’d been kind, caring, and compassionate in conversation with his child.  He said I should be like that more often.

That conversation didn’t impact me until the next day and then it sent me reeling.  Was that what I’d been doing?  Pretending when I should have been true?  The realization was blinding.  Action was required.  I grabbed large sheets of paper, taped them together, and drew a brick wall.  Graffiti style, I frantically wrote out all the things I feared, all the things that had hurt me over the years.

There was very little white space when I finished.

I sat back, shocked at how much fear lived inside me.  I taped my wall to a closet door and went back to it daily for months, slowly letting each of those things go.  Eventually, I took the wall down, folded it neatly, and put it away.  I didn’t need it anymore.  I was finally on a path to freedom.

And then the words came back to me.  Glorious words!  First as poetry, then a story, then blog posts, then another novel, then plot ideas for even more.

My writer’s voice is growing, slowly, with painstaking care.  The first novel is in edit-mode.  The second novel is evolving scene by scene, quirky and full of fun.

If I bothered to refer to my writing craft books, I suspect they’d advise finishing the edits on the first book before starting the second.  But they have different voices, radically different plots, even differences in genre.  I can compartmentalize them so that I focus only on the one open on my screen.  It works for me and it’s part of who I am — a multi-tasker.

My personal voice is growing fast.  People have come into my life who make it so EASY to be my true self, joining me on this journey of discovery.  They push when I need pushing and understand when I need to be understood.  There’s always a soft place to land.

This crazy adventure called life, rocky at so many times, has helped me to grow, as a person and as a writer.  I am grateful for the lessons learned.  I’ll keep on keeping it real.

How did you know you were a writer?  How did you find your voice?

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9 thoughts on “Keeping It Real

  1. You have indeed find the secret. Keeping it real. You have to do what works for you, and if that means writing twenty projects at a time, so be it. I know that when I try to conform, my health declines. When I accept who I am, I find places of peace. It isn’t easy to be true to yourself on a daily basis, but it is a fight worth fighting.

    I wish you continued joy in finding your voice and your journey.

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  2. I know that I have told you this before but your posts make me sit up and seriously think about my life and the direction it has gone and is going. You have made me stop and question the decisions that I am making. I wish that I had the courage to make the changes that I feel down deep are needed. Thank you so much for the inspiration. Someday I will have the courage to make the changes.

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    • I have no doubt that you will find the courage to make changes one day. It may be sooner than you think.

      I teared up when I read your comment. When I started this blog, I didn’t know how important it would become. All I knew was I needed a place to publish words. As time has gone on, I find it easier and easier to share more of myself with the world. The fact that my posts touch your life and mean something to you is a blessing to me. So thank you so much for telling me what my posts mean to you.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this Hilary. It sounds like you are on the right path. I think the idea of the wall you drew out was fantastic. Have a great day Hilary! 🙂

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  4. I agree with Mark – that paper graffiti wall was brilliant! Putting all the fear out there like that where it couldn’t hide was great.

    We all have failures, but not everyone will reflect upon them or face them head on. I think it so great that you do that. I hope your journey continues to be one of growth 🙂

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