Painting Words

As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me: grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall. ~Virginia Woolf

Words wait in me untilthey are ripe, ready to be plucked and picked, ready to flow of their own accord. They are always there, floating around me, dancing into phrases, experiences highlighting themselves to me by the words they create. Usually words are a deep and fast river, and typing is the only way to navigate the waters. Always, words take me someplace I have never been before, and create for me someplace new.

I do not often write about writing, other than the sensory experience of it sometimes, until this app project. It has required the sharing of silent and sacred spaces within me, to process how the project is coming along, what the results are, and why it is being done this way or that. It has opened my heart-space to put my mind on tour, with red ropes lined along the walls, keeping just enough distance as the people file past.

My blog is already a meta-narrative, which has made writing about the app and the writing process a meta-meta-narrative. It has invited people into the process to help, to tweak, to teach, to refresh their own writing, and leads us all to share and record or progress in some way – because there can be no progress without it being measured. Writing about the app has been a monologue that has stopped the play long enough to thank the audience for coming, which is sweet, but brings with it the glare of the house lights being turned on, with enough sting that the first act is almost forgotten – and would be, if not for the continuity of the second act.

Some things in the blog are not actual writing, but nonetheless are art: photography, moments captured, community celebrations. All are life experiences that lead to writing, like little seeds just barely poking their green above the earth. Whether the fiery red in the leaves of trees, the layers of colors in a sunset, the look on a child’s face as she digs up her first vegetables from the ground, the look on an aged puppy’s face as he realizes he is running out of walks this lifetime, the experience of a woman who has come into her own and runs a good business for the sake of people, or the accomplishment of hundreds of teenagers working hard as a whole being, these are all expressions of life, all examples of the creative process capturing the experiences we share.

Other things in the blog are writing, and either express what my soul has captured, or describes what tried to capture me. The words sometimes pour out of me almost faster than I can type, and other times writing is more like a wrestling match that leaves me beat up and exhausted. But they are always experiences worth post-card-ing to myself, or lessons I need to document so as not to repeat the hard knocks of learning them.

I don’t mind sometimes sharing the process of writing, how it unfolds, because all writers need to share that and need to read that from time to time, just to keep the fires going. And I understand the app is a big deal and is exciting and worth celebrating and is just fun. But the the noise of it distracts me, and kind of annoys me, like microphone feedback that is necessary to be sure everything is set up properly but hurts your ears when it squeals.

I hope it is all up and working now, set up and going smoothly, so that we can get back to being the creative collective and changing the world by growing ourselves and healing each other. I am grateful to those who helped make sure everything was working properly, and who offered good feedback along the way as they tweak different things. Good art, full expression, and sacred sharing always requires the proper atmosphere, and all this blog-app-ness has been the difficult process of setting up that theatre necessary for the people to have a place to sit and watch and listen.

I am most grateful, above all, for those friends who text or email or walk or meet for lunch or who do the hard work, in some way, of making time – creating time – to talk, to share, to teach, to discuss, to exchange, to fuel the place where words are born. This is what nourishes me, grows me, and teaches me. It is how I learn, how I process, how I come to understand. It is how I am fed, and it is what I need more than anything. Sometimes it is is hours, sometimes it is only an exchanged look, and sometimes it is a profound comment shared in a class or meeting or message, but it is sent to me by spirit-arrow, and strikes me at my core. It is the tether that keeps me well and safe, a cord strong enough to let me swim deep without drowning, to go far without being lost. That’s why essay-words resonate in our bones, because we are tuning forks for each other, and the essays that are born are yours as well as mine.

But like my garden that is no good unless what is grown is eaten, words are no good unless they change us, unless we are changed by them, unless we live what we learn from them, unless we live by them. Words will often change us whether we notice or not, so it is better to notice and be aware of where they carry us. If they truly carry us, if they really change us, then we grow beyond who we were before we read them. If they grow us, there should be more of us than there was before, there should be more me to who I am, more of me than there was before, and I should be better equipped to paint the kind of me I choose to be. Words are the colors of my self-portrait, and we are mirrors for each other as we paint.

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About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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