So many of us walk around with a secret (or not so secret) yearning for some other way to be, some other kind of life to lead.
This thing you yearn for, it’s not so far from who you are now. You’re not asking to join the circus or live on the moon. Instead, you want your own life, plus a little something more true, more authentically yours.
You find yourself reaching for some kind of life that’s perpetually almost within your grasp, but not quite. You taste it during stolen hours or weekend retreats, but it doesn’t stay. It’s like living in a constant state of “If only... but not yet.”
A creative life. A spiritual life. An artist’s life. A writing life.
What You Learn Two Decades Into “Not Quite a Writer’s Life”
For me, it was always the quest for “a writing life.” It was the quest to reclaim the life I’d had when I was too young to feel unworthy of it.
The adult me could write now and then, sure, but to have a life that placed my own writing somewhere near the center of my day and my identity? Oh, that sounds absolutely divine, thank you, but I just couldn’t possibly!
The excuses evolved through the years, but they all seemed reasonable enough at the time…
There was the relationship. My passion and my confidence about the words I put on the page dried up when I fell in love with an older guy who fancied himself a writer. I was 17. None of my girlish stories could be more important than loving a man and the creative work that he was sure were so important...
There was the inner critic. Eventually, we broke up and that guy went on to not actually become a writer, but I still couldn’t get my inspiration to conspire with my reality to create a writing habit. Though I had plenty of time throughout my 20s, I would be all full of passion and potential until I sat down and stared at a cruel blank page. No story could ever be good enough after all that time spend wishing I could be a “real” writer...
There was the mothering. Once I hit my 30s and found myself with a house and children, there was barely time to shower or even to think, never mind develop a writing practice that was nourishing and consistent. No story could be more worthy than my family and worries about our finances...
One constant belief that carried me for over 20 years: a writing life was something that other people could have.
The blessed ones. People who didn’t have to work, who didn’t have to parent, who didn’t have to sleep. People with stories more compelling, tragic, and impossible to ignore. People who were born brilliant. People born without an inner critic. People who trusted that they were here to be artists and had some sort of creative grit I just couldn’t find or fully understand.
But then I began to realize… There’s no such thing as “other people.” And I had a twisted perspective on what it meant to be “blessed” to boot.
Good news: the entire world is conspiring to help me (to help all of us) reckon with - and struggle with - these truths.
Division and Illusion On a Grand Scale
Right now, on a global scale, the waves of manufactured division are trying to erode the bedrock of human connection. Illusion is trying to flame brighter than shared truth.
There are structures in place - old, top-down power structures - that tell us we are a country checkered with two primary colors and that we are a world that’s meant to be sliced up according to our differences in politics, religion, and culture.
And yet, we’re also watching the entire spectrum of colors and identities emerge, rise up, blend, shift, and find countless new forms of expression.
It’s both painful and easy to see the contradictions, to see why this moment in history seems so overwhelming, confusing, and just so wrong… There are things we know in our bones, the basic stuff of right and wrong, but then we’re barraged by narratives of an alternate reality constantly being presented by “the other side.”
Division and Illusion on the Individual Scale
To varying degrees, we are reflections of the collective. Throughout my creative life I’d created my own private biosphere where I constantly planted hope, but the brutal storms of division and illusion always seemed wash away the seeds and destroy the immature root system.
In this world I had created, I wasn’t like the fortunate, productive people who wrote great things and boldly took in the harvest.
I couldn’t be savvy enough or brave enough to make the sacrifices to prioritize my writing. Somehow, my burden was heavier - even if it was the weight of the horrifically mundane. Those other people and their secret success sauce were meant to be followed and envied, but also avoided.
I told myself I had to push through my own workaday reality, which could never be quite as bright or full of promise as the creative reality of others. I had to take each practical project that came along to pay for the groceries and simply tell the art to wait in line. When I had all the money, marriage, and mothering figured out, then I could write.
Oh, My Heart, I Am Sick to Death of that Story
There’d be a certain amount of continuity to this tale if I told you that I came to my epiphany when I reached my 40s. But really, it’s just not necessary to wait another nine months for the revolution. The change is happening now…
I’ve quit praying for a writing life and decided that I’d better just start living in.
In part, change is rolling through because I was bored sick of the old stories, limitations, and fear. In part, it’s because time had done its work and life had started to change around me.
I started to see that my marriage (to a different guy who never considered himself a writer and who was never threatened by my creativity) wasn’t served by my playing small. My children got older. The years I had spent writing words for others seemed less like lost opportunities and more like the apprenticeship that would hold me as I grew a family.
And I just plain old outgrew the narrow life offered by my bad old friends division and illusion.
So many moments and choices brought me here, back at the page with the trust and confidence of my young, fearless self. Countless stories and words had to pile up until I could again trust my voice and declare that my life must be a writing life.
Ultimately, though, it all comes down to one word - one enormous, magical word that I plan on spending the rest of my life teasing out…
It’s a word that found me long before its definition did.
Sovereignty came to me as something to do with freeing the princess, crowning the queen, and embracing the wise woman. This trinity of ideas found me during the darkest time when I was mourning my mother’s death, trying to figure how to be a mom to my newborn, and stumbling through the early days of entrepreneurship.
Sovereignty was a signal fire that shone on a distant shore, finding me in the midst of a long dark night.
And yet, for so long, sovereignty was as much of a “someday” dream as having a writing life was.
I knew I wanted to be sovereign, that I had to be sovereign in order to fully experience my own life. I knew I was meant to...
fully accept and inhabit my own worthiness
connect with and own my creative power
feel whole and comfortable in my own skin, on this earth, in my relationships, and in my own story
reckon with all that I yearned for, all that I’d been, all that I am in this moment, and all I’ve denied about myself, my reality, and our collective reality
take on the truth of the world and be strong enough to make a difference - without sacrificing myself, body, mind and spirit.
It’s been a long, spiraling journey to get anywhere near sovereignty, to get anywhere near a writing life.
But here I am, with over 45,000 words in my Book of Sovereignty manuscript.
And here I am, founding the Sovereign Writers Circle and holding space for a phenomenal group of healers and creatives who want to bring their words and stories into the world.
I waited for my reality to change, I waited for my real life to sort itself out in order to make way for my writing life.
And then I stopped waiting and started writing and I realized that the difference between me and a real writing life, a real creative life was about 1000 words a day devoted to a passion project that integrates the most essential parts of who I am and what I know I must say.
What If the Writing Life You Long for Isn’t Really About Writing At All?
The most true advice one can offer an “aspiring writer” is to quit aspiring and start writing.
It’s also the most brutal advice, and I think I have finally sorted out why…
Writing is less about putting words on a page than it is about expressing your sovereign story - as an individual, as a creative, as someone with a story that you know in your bones is worthy of remembering, imagining, drafting, editing, and risking in the world.
And so, I invite you to lean into your longing for a writing life, but please don’t stop there. I invite you to set a goal to live a sovereign life as well.