Writing is Dreaming in Words

How Writing Became My Voice

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

“Write something pretty.” “Keep it simple.” “Write like so-and-so. It would be much nicer and lady-like then what you write.”

That sort of misdirected advice is deadly. At the time, I didn’t know what to do with it and grew quieter and retreated inside. I lost track of the conversation as it went on and on. I held the phone but the words coming through seemed extra far away exacerbated in critical and pleading with a pretense, I wish you were different and would fit in.

Over the years, I had to push aside those loud voices and center into my introverted species and remind myself not to be ashamed of who I am. Writing has helped me to get there.

As Ursula K. Le Guin notes, “…we have been taught to be ashamed of not being ‘outgoing’. But a writer’s job is ingoing.”

I’m so grateful for her epic words. I don’t want to write like so-and-so. I need to write like me.

Over the last 7 years, I’ve written for at least 6 publications and a handful of anthologies. Each one with a different sharpness or softness to it. Some wanted click-bait but stated otherwise; a classic double bind. Others asked for beauty. Some enjoyed poetry and others said, no. A certain word length was advised. Current events felt like an ambulance chaser to see whose piece got to the editors and be featured first. Honestly some of those places felt like a tragic puppy mill. I poured out 10 to15 articles per month for 3 to 4 years until I was burnt out.

Nonetheless, I learned from each of those spaces. I learned how much to share, when to back off. I learned to write glossy and how gross I felt afterwards; my soul was sick when I didn’t write from my heart. Some of those places trusted me and guided me and lifted me. Others torn me apart.

What I don’t miss is guessing what was wanted and presented in just the right package. I don’t miss trying to be a yogini and writing from that point of view, minus the glam shots of me posing and meditating. I don’t miss trying to write ‘hip’ and then discover that even that word was considered too old fashion. Instead I was supposed to write edgy and throw in intimate body parts to make me sound cooler, promiscuous, and in love with my body. I hated my body then and I’m still working on loving her now.

Big, big, sigh.

Eventually, after trying to fit in, I left most of the publications. One by one. Knowing not all stories are pretty. Life isn’t a perpetual rainbow. There are plenty of storms that brings us to our deeper insides.

I took another few years to focus on my poetry and prose, had three books published: two with poetry and the third was an anthology of 54 incredibly talented writers.

Looking back, though, I needed those publications so help teach me what I wanted to write and what I didn’t. Writing is an evolution.

Anais Nin so exquisitely states, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

I am deeply introspective as well as a sensitive creature, empathically wired, introverted and wearing a full-hearted cloak, prone to seeing in the dark, hearing words that aren’t always there — I learned early on to disappear while still appearing present. I could often nod and smile at just the right intervals that would avoid punishment. I counted objects in a room when things got a little too fuzzy. Or I’d stare at one spot and fall into that nebulous space and walk for miles to the sound of inner oceans, hoping to avoid the real demons who eat quiet souls as bait.

For me, writing is dreaming in words. Every action, memory, flavor, scent, sunlight, injustice, stale saltine — is a potential story. I see things through a writer’s senses and after a long time of not saying anything, writing is the closest opportunity to freedom I have ever experienced. From there, I’ve grown bolder as well as wiser. Writing is healing through self-love and acceptance. Writing is an ongoing process.

What I wrote in the past and what I write now are similar but also different. I spend a little less time worrying about what others will think because I’m learning to write from my soul’s story. This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate encouraging feedback and insightful suggestions. I do.

Writing is my heart’s home. It doesn’t like rules. In general, I don’t like too many rules with the exception: to respect another person.

Tied into all of this I can remember as a teenager cry-yelling at my parents, “Why don’t you respect me?”

What I was really saying is, “Why don’t you respect my thoughts, feelings, ideas and differences? Why do I have to abide by your rules when my heart hurts and I’m not allowed to cry as the door slams on my fingers?

I craved to be loved for who I was — not someone else — but for who I am.

In retrospect, what I’m doing now is rewriting that story. I’m learning to love me for who I am. Less excuses. Less abuses. More boundaries. More saying, no. Less accommodating and agreeing when I disagree — just to appease. Standing solitary isn’t easy and yet it is necessary.

I will respect my thoughts, feelings, ideas and differences. I will abide by a set of rule less rules and craft contingencies and encourage insights to keep me safe and growing.

I will speak up sooner when there’s a lack of respect. I will write from the crevices that were seen through the light under a closet door and footsteps that found me sleeping under layers and layers with a tiny cross that could not save me. I will write from under my bed when the keys turn the lock and the backdoor slams fear into my bones. I will write where it hurts and where it loves most. I will write without the power dictating me to be nicer and sweeter.

Simple — isn’t how I write. It isn’t who I am.

I’m complex, highly sensitive, introverted, creative, intelligent, housing a full heart; I am a woman who won’t accept anything less than respect and love from the essence of who I am. Therefore, I will continue to write.

Carolyn Riker is a poet, writer and author. She has two books of poetry: Blue Clouds and This is Love. In addition to writing, she has a private practice as a highly sensitive mental health therapist. If you would like to read more of her words, follow her on Facebook at Carolyn Riker, MA, LMHC.

Dreamer. Poet. HSP. Empath. Licensed MH Therapist. 3 books published. 3X Top Writer. Love espressos & my chunky cat. www.carolynriker.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store