Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Writer's Confession

At the Pacific

In the past few days, I've been envious.

My Mount Hermon companions have been expressing things I can hardly say or show. There are Kirsten's luminous photos, Becky's trim summaries, and Mark's poetic expressions about finding God on a closed trail. He uses words like "yawp" and "swordfern", "peek" and "shock" and makes me want to find that place.

Here, at my own keyboard, I struggle beside my writing friends' accomplishments. Struggle to find ways to discuss the Pacific, the winding trail under redwoods, the sandy banks of a creek. Squirm at the failure to describe what I have discovered about myself... that I am like the golden anemones that cling to the rocks at the sea, who send off a bit of electric sensation to anyone who reaches towards them— a person of tingle and not retreat (like the snails who sucked themselves into their shells post-haste when we lifted them heavenward). I feel bent beneath the task of trying to explain what it is like to see the souls of my cyberfriends embodied for a few short days— only to lose their touch again as journeys homeward turn them back into cyberghosts.

In this hard place, where I try to take the crooked, round, long, bubbling, shadowy experiences of an amazing week and squeeze them into words, I find that words are my enemies. They are a mean shack with the key broken off in the lock. They are boxes whose lids are fastened with pneumatic seals, bottles whose caps are writer-proof, trails that beckon but are taped off with yellow "do not cross: police line" ribbons.

And so I have been envious of others who have ways to say and show what I cannot. This is my writer's confession.


Quartz Rocks at the Pacific photo, by L.L. Barkat.

RELATED:

LL's Return

LL's Ancient Cathedral


PLEASE WELCOME:

Mount Hermon blogosphere newcomer Long Island Express Girl. A very cool up-and-coming blogger (we had the best dinner conversation at MH!).

Mount Hermon blogosphere newcomer The Oho Report, by Otto Haugland.

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19 Comments:

Blogger Michelle Gregory said...

L.L.
Not to negate what you're trying to express, but from reading this post, I think you have an amazing command of the English language. You may not be pleased with them, but I think you've done a fine job of conveying your thoughts about your experience.

I'm also finding it hard to express my feelings about Mt. Hermon and all that happened there - maybe because I'm having conflicted feelings about the experience. And I - like you - am sorry to see the people I met fade back into cyberghosts. What can we do to lessen the sting of that?

11:25 AM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I think you have shown us what you needed to quite nicely LL - and I love you all the more for it!

He is risen INDEED!

A blessed and joyfilled Easter!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

L.L.
~Beautiful.
Won't we all struggle with this in our lives?
The English language only holds so much meaning.
I think it's fine not to have words, though as a writer that must be hard.
I remember when I met my first "blogging friend". There really were no words...amazing doesn't seem to describe.
Be thankful for the experience! (I know you are, just be thankful in quietude, is what I guess I was saying.)

1:05 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Well, I have no wish to be trite, as I have my own (frequent) moments of artistic envy, but thank goodness no one of us has cornered the market on expressing our experiences of the beautiful and good. I'd take a forest of trees imperfectly expressing the essence of tree-ness (pardon my retreat into my philosophy for a moment) over one perfect specimen of tree any day... even if that means I sometimes get to be the rotted out old stump. That said, you underestimate yourself... I think you have managed to capture a whole lot that is lovely in the way that is uniquely your own. That's priceless. I'm glad you had such a rewarding time! :)

1:56 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Wow, L.L. You have a wonderful gift of writing. Just keep being yourself as God has created you and is creating you as you express that unique gift he has put in you.

And a most blessed Easter season to you and yours!!! The Lord is risen indeed!!!

6:42 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Michelle... thank you. Are you free to share what you are conflicted about? As for diminishing the sting, I suppose there's no way really. It simply reminds us these people do matter to us, though we've known them mostly over the wires.

Susan... your love is always appreciated. And a blessed Easter to you too.

Andrea... which is why I suppose we really need art and music and sighs and hugs and so on. Yes, I'm thankful for the experience, as you suggest. :)

Nikki... what an excellent point. We need all kinds of expressions to capture the fullness of beauty. I realize that what I wrote has its place; I also realize that one of the best cures for writer's block is simply to write about IT. Then it slinks to the edge of the page.

Ted... it's funny, isn't it, to think that we can envy others even when we ourselves have worthy gifts? It felt important to be honest about that. And thank you for your reminders to just be.

10:10 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

oh pooh!
you write real good!
:-)

1:37 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

oh...and it is good to get out your feelings... i did not mean that you shouldnt have these feelings!

i think it shows the true struggle that we all have, we all struggle no matter what, and it is good to be able to get that out in the open so that others know that they are not alone in their struggles.

i just wanted you to know that you are very good at expressing yourself in a way that only you can do. only you can express the words in the way that comes through you. and it will be so different than anyone else. that is why Kirsten's expression is special, and Becky's work is special, and Mark's work is special, and your work is special. and i just wanted to remind you that your work is special. and it was very nice of you to post links to the others as it was fun to have a look.

it looks as though the time in california was very pretty.

if you ever want to have a visit to oregon, i would be glad to show you some pretty bits here.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

You struggle for the words, the colors, the scenes.
And we are simply transported.
Is that what it means to be an artist?
Keep creating.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Aah, I know exactly how you feel. And when I feel that way, I make an Elvis sandwich. Mmmm... grilled bread, peanut-butter, bananas and bacon! I feel better already.

Are you serious? Mark said "swordfern?" I have to go check that out.

2:07 PM  
Blogger A Musing Mom said...

LL-thanks for saying what this writer sometimes feels when hearing the words of other (brilliant) people, even your words. We want to express ourselves, we need to do so. We know what it is to do it well. And sometimes we're too close to our own words to see the beauty in them. I think your post here expresses at least a part of your experience quite beautifully.

Sounds like Mt. Hermon was a great experience.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

You struggle with words, LL, yet express precisely what I've been feeling. I think your struggle is accomplishing more than you may realize! ;-)

Becky

3:32 PM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

I think the kinds of experiences that happen at conferences and retreats like Mount Hermon often lead to a little bit of letdown and malaise when they are over. Somehow, taking all that we learn and experience during these moments of intensity and applying them to real life leaves us exhausted and speechless. I particularly related to your description of your sense of failure to describe what you have discovered about yourself. I am finding this truth in my own life right now, and feeling like less of a writer for it.

You are loved, LL. By so many, by such a One. Rest in that for a while.

7:31 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Nancy... you make me smile. I think that the best thing to do with writer's block is to write through it, about it. Then we find at least some words. They may not be the ones we were hoping for, but they can be real good, as you say. :) As for comparing ourselves to others, I think we all do it from time to time. It just can't be helped. Admitting it is probably a good thing. Oh, and if I ever make my way through Oregon, I'll be looking for that hospitality.

Ann... I like the idea that art is partly struggle, and that when we make the struggle plain, we are creating something that potentially has power.

Craver... um. Um. Ahem. Your stomach is stronger than mine. :) And yes, he said "swordfern". Imagine.

Becky... I think this is the hardest part about going to such a great conference. It leaves us feeling both full and empty, and we are set off balance for a while.

Charity... sounds like the voice of experience! So glad you brought your words here. And your love. That means a lot. Really, really.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Here's a new way to think of authenticity: be "a person of tingle and not retreat." I'll have to mull that one over for awhile.

And about swordferns... what can I say? There were swordferns. I was just describing the fauna.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Brandon Satrom said...

LL,
If I may say so, I'm amazed at how you express yourself poetically even when lamenting wordlessness. Not only are you writing, you're writing well. And offering encouragement to the rest of us who don't often know what to say...

So thanks for that!

- Brandon

2:39 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Brandon... I might say the same to you, regarding your recent post on writer's block. :) This tells me that one of the best cures for writer's block is simply to write about the block. The exercise of describing it begins to chip away at its presence.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Tanya said...

I know exactly how you feel, though I may have more right to the feelings. You are poetic and transparent; encouraging and challenging.

I'm currently reading The Thirteenth Tale. In it one character expresses a wonderful analogy of life and writing. "The writer's life needs time to rot away before it can be used to nourish a work." She asserts that life, a compost heap, needs time to decay before we can adequately see what it's made of and what it can grow through our words. This is what I thought of while reading your post. Sometimes we have to let life sit before we can write about it.

11:05 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

I've been learning this too since my return ... words are impotent and sometimes they just won't come the way you want them too. It almost feels as if they're stopped up inside somewhere.

I really resonated with this statement: "I find that words are my enemies. They are a mean shack with the key broken off in the lock."

A frustrating reality for a writer to face, isn't it?

As Christianne & I are so fond of saying: "BLEH!!!" ;o)

4:37 PM  

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