MARIELENA ZUNIGA: ON “THE JOURNEY”
Have you read “The Journey” by poet Mary Oliver? If not, you’re missing an incredible piece of writing. It speaks to me, as a woman, and as a writer. It begins: “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice…”
One day, as writers, we tell ourselves: “Enough mucking around with writing this book! I know what I need to do. I’m beginning the journey.” So, we embark with great faith and courage, with no maps to guide us. Yes, we may have an outline. But the journey of writing, in and of itself, often traverses uncharted lands. We encounter detours. Along the way, we are surprised by our characters or plot lines, and what they reveal to ourselves and our readers.
Even as we begin, we still hear those voices in our heads, shouting their “bad advice” that we can’t do it. That we won’t finish our book. Oliver continues: “But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough …”
As a writer, I knew it was “already late enough” in my life. If I didn’t set a destination in my journey to finish a novel, it would never happen. While I completed “Deadly Habits,” the truth is that the book still needs revision. Like many writers, I am always on the journey, always writing.
But, if we’re open to the journey, writing becomes sacred in the most holistic of ways. We learn more of who we are. We learn to trust the words we write. We listen to and accept our own unique voices because as Oliver says, that as we leave the other voices behind, there is a “new voice which you slowly recognize as your own, that kept you company, as you strode deeper and deeper into the world …”
So. May you stride deeper into the boundless world of writing. With courage. With an open heart. And with your new voice as your best companion, may you know that we –on this blog as well as many other writers — are also your companions on the journey.