Mother’s Day, blogging, and other ways to stretch

Sage CohenProductive writing, The life poetic8 Comments

Yesterday, my son was gifted with a red and blue egg, each protecting its own, little wad of silly putty. The first thing he did was smoosh the two globs together into a swirly purple mash, stretch them out into “yours” and “mine” ends, and then start walking across the kitchen with his lump, while I stood in place holding mine, worrying about all the pet hair and breakfast crumbs the putty would collect when it fell apart between us. What I saw, instead, was that silly putty can be thinned to a whisper through a room without losing the integrity of its intention.

As I unwrapped a Mother’s Day care package (a scarf for me in exactly my colors and a book for Theo by one of his favorite authors) sent to me by a beloved student-and-friend, my heart stretched like that silly putty across the house.

When I started blogging in 2006, it was a personal challenge designed to help me: 1. commit to a serious writing practice; and 2. find out if I actually had something to say every day, for a year. What I didn’t quite comprehend at the time was that I was entering public life in a way that would rewrite me permanently, chapter by chapter, year by year.

The truth is, I never expected anyone to read or find my blog–in fact, I was counting on it. I was so completely terrified of telling the truth about my life, in writing, for anyone and everyone to see, that I was surprised to find myself still alive and well on the other side, each time I clicked “Publish.” Five years since that first, life-threatening post, I have grown into the writing space I set out for myself when I decided to take myself seriously. The rigors of my daily writing practice organically expanded into: teaching online, authoring three books, launching an e-zine and multiple, new blogs and websites and more. Along the way, I have been communicating regularly and passionately with an ever-expanding, ever-delightful virtual community of writers, many of whom I share more intimate (and frequent) conversation with than the people in my “real” life–whatever “real” may be in this day and age.

I had no idea when I started blogging that I was entering the biggest and most uncharted relationship of my life: the one I have with you, dear reader.

In this glorious courtship of the written word, we can draw a dotted line between any two people/places/things and teach them how they resemble each other. This blog, along with its many predecessors, has taught me that we who write have a unique opportunity to tap those wellsprings of the universal human experience–and to soak in those baptismal waters together with gratitude and awe: We write! We discover! We don’t know shit! How lucky we are to be in this cosmic mosh pit together!

I had no idea just five short years ago how much would come back to me from readers–that people around the world would share their compassion, their wisdom, their humor, their stories, and etch into me new truths, nourish me with surprising perspectives, and even (blessedly) look out for me and for my son, as we have moved through our many initiations of life together.

You who have offered me with such grace your truest thoughts and your deepest dreams, you who have shared your fears, vulnerabilities, confusion, ambivalence, celebrations and successes, I am wealthy with your gifts. We’re all in this mystery together. How good it is to be traveling with you.

I’m wondering how you’re stretching your writing life these days, and what’s coming apart or coming together as a result? How have you “put yourself out there” and what have you learned from what has come back around to you?

8 Comments on “Mother’s Day, blogging, and other ways to stretch”

  1. Oh, it will take a whole blog post, or maybe a series, to answer that question! I have been in extreme blog discomfort for a couple of months, since trying a) to disentangle my poetry blog and massage blog, and b) finding all my identities increasingly public and increasingly intermixed. And Facebook has thrown a bizarre wild-card into the mix, with its seductions and coynesses.

    Thank you for this post: it makes me realize that of course discomfort is the surest sign that there’s grist in the mill. I’ll be writing about this soon ūüôā

    1. Dale, I hope you’ll let us know when that blog post / series of posts is live. Yes, it’s very complicated as we expand figuring out what our identities are / how they fit / how to hold them in a public conversation…I look forward to hearing what comes of this grist in the mill for you…

  2. Sage: Your words always speak to me. How have I stretched myself this year? I began my very first blog. Forgive me for listing it here (victoriasvisiblevoice.blogspot.com) but this too is part of my stretching, to think I might be worthy to be read. Like you I started this blog, which has been years in the making, with the idea that no one would read it, but would keep me writing. I also have finally signed up to take an essay writing workshop all summer long. Again my goal is to keep writing.What I’ve come to realize with writing is that it’s main purpose is to inspire the writer to grow and be as complete a human being as possible. Thank you always for your support!

  3. My stretching started last fall when I committed to writing a blog post every single day for the month of November for NaBloPoMo. It was the first time I found myself consistently writing, and I fell so in love with the process that I’ve kept it up since then. Along the way, I’m starting to learn to put my story out there (even though it is still anonymous for the moment to protect family), I’m finding my voice, and I’m learning the joy of discipline in my writing. I hope to take this start and continue growing it into a full-time writing career — one baby step at a time!

  4. Sage,
    I was definitely stretching the rubber bands of my comfort zone this weekend! Weeks ago I submitted several poems to Lancaster’s Spoken Word Festival and had four selected. I was honored, but when I found out that the pieces should be at least partially memorized and that movement and appropriate props were encouraged, I wondered how I got myself into such a situation! The performances were this weekend and all of the poets did a great job. And I’m happy to tell you that one of my poems was generated in your online poetry class.

  5. One baby step at a time: great wisdom. And nice work with your daily practice!

    Kim, how great that you stepped out of your comfort zone! Did you have fun performing in the end? Which poem that I’ve seen did you read??

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