It’s all about the letting go

A short while ago I went to London with some friends to see the Beatles musical ‘Let it Be’.  We sang along, did a lot of arm-waving (Hey Jude!) and despite the limited space, got up and danced.  You just can’t help yourself, can you?

Well, some can, apparently.  Among the swaying throng, a few remained stalwartly in their seats, allowing themselves a gentle nod of the head or tap of the foot but that’s all.  (I am talking fit and able people here, by the way.)

We all know someone like that, don’t we?  In the midst of a standing ovation they’ll be the one person in the row glued to the seat.  You’ll never see them jumping up and down and yelling ‘Home you go!’ as their horse crosses the finishing line.  Their child won’t suffer the indignity of the decibel-busting ‘Go on son!’ from the touchline on Sunday morning in the park.  (That could be a bonus, mind you…)

The kind of person I’m talking about isn’t necessarily shy or lacking in confidence.  They can’t let go.  Simple as that.  Oh, they wish they could, no doubt about it.  The frustration’s etched on their faces but something inside always stops them.  It must be fear, I think, fear of making fools of themselves but, more than that, fear of their own emotions.

It manifests itself in other ways, too.  Such a person may not, for example, get a cat, even though they love cats, because sooner or later it will die and they’re afraid of how they will feel when it happens.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong or inferior about being that way, heaven forbid – we’re all different and what a boring old world it would be if we weren’t – but I was thinking about the types of people who turn out to be writers and whether it requires a certain kind of personality to be one.

I don’t know the complete answer to that, except I’m certain that the can’t-let-goers are not writers.  I’m coming late to the party with this, I know, but when I first started writing I didn’t think beyond the inspiration, the ideas and the craft.  Now I’m beginning to understand that in order to get inside the heads of your characters you must first get inside your own and take a long, honest view of what lies below the surface.

It’s about burrowing down and touching your emotions, trying to understand them and not being afraid of what you might find. It’s about being brave, taking a deep breath and letting go.

The same must apply, I think, to all the arts.  A sculptor I know says that working quickly in clay allows her to express her feelings.  I hadn’t thought of it like that before but clearly she too draws on her deeper emotions in the creative process.

Obviously I’m only scratching the surface here, probably naively since I’m no psychologist, but I’d like to know what you think so I’ll finish with a couple of cryptic questions to start you off.

Certainly, to be a writer you need curiosity, tenacity, patience and eternal optimism as well as a whole range of skills but providing there’s a modicum of talent there to begin with, most of those things can be learned or acquired.

Can you learn, though, to bring your emotions to the surface and let the world see what you’re really about, or do you have to be that person to begin with?

Also, has being a writer changed you in any way?






9 thoughts on “It’s all about the letting go

  1. Fabulous post, Deirdre. Really enjoyed reading that. Funnily enough, I always seem to be sat next to those people at concerts. The whole theatre or stadium can be going wild and the few rows around me are sat politely clapping, glued to their seats. Every single time!

    I can’t decide whether writing has changed me as I think I’ve always written; I’ve just never registered that I’m doing it if that makes sense. I find it therapeutic although, in some ways, I think I maybe prefer to write than to have a conversation with someone. I’ve always hated using the phone and now, with Facebook messaging, I don’t have to! I know a lot of people of a younger generation would Facebook or text automatically instead because they’ve been brought up in that world but, at 41, I haven’t been. I’m conscious that when I FB message someone, it’s because I’d rather write the words than speak to them! It feels so much more satisfying. Does that make me a little strange?!

    Julie xxx

    • No that’s not strange at all Julie – I know just what you mean. Depends who it is but sometimes I really have to gird myself up to ring somebody. I have a friend who I don’t see that often and we aren’t that close. I don’t know her email address as I don’t think she uses it much and when it’s my turn to ring her I put it off and put it off until eventually she rings me and I find myself making silly excuses for not having rung her. If I could message her another way she would more than likely hear from me a good deal more often. What annoys me sometimes is when I email somebody because I want to tell them something but don’t want to spend hours to them on the phone and then when they get my message they ring me! Funny lot aren’t we! Wandering off topic here but I think that’s the fun part, seeing what comes up from our posts.

  2. Great post Deirdre. Ah, letting go. A hard one really, but I’m getting there! Being a writer and telling everyone has made a difference to me. I’m a much more confident person from the shy little mouse I once was and of course you have to get to grips with technology!!

  3. That’s me that is!!! I’m one of the quiet ones in the audience! I don’t enjoy being loud,’ tis not my way, but I do like fun things! Jumping up and down for enjoyment just isn’t me though. I have painful arms and legs so am not inclined to clap or stand and get very tired so prefer to sit down. I don’t think I’d be too lively even if I didn’t have physical restrictons, I’m just not extrovert enough, I’m just not wired up like that, as the saying goes. I don’t think I’m miserable though, I love Hey Jude! and I’m certainly in touch with my emotions, otherwise I couldn’t have done my job. But jump up and down in concerts, non merci, n’est pas moi!

    Like Julie I prefer to write than have a conversation and don’t like using the phone if I can help it. I love people too, or else I couldn’t have been a social worker for about a billion years. But to express myself properly and when I want to really express my emotions, gimme a pen and paper! (or cursor and screen!)

    In my teens I used to enjoy dancing naked at pop concerts, but now am strictly confined to my seat through personal choice.

    I do think writers are a bit different, you have to be comfortable with your own company for long periods I guess. I often think I’d have been happy being one of those monks in a monastry who does those beautiful books. Except I do like being married. And my drawings not up to much. And I do like people some times. And you have to get up early as a monk.

    Lynne x

    • Dancing naked at pop concerts?! Blimey Lynne you’ve been hiding your light under the proverbial, or actually not hiding anything by the sound of it! Love it. What fun! You do make me smile. x


  4. Ah yes, Rachael. lt feels quite brazen telling people about the writing and I’m not normally that forthcoming so I think I’ve gained some confidence too though that may just be advancing years rather than the writing!

  5. Really enjoyed the post Deirdre. As a mum of a daughter who just started modball (think baseball/softball type game) I am definitely one of the ones standing at the side but with a quieter “go Olivia” compared to some…I did think of taking some headache tablets with me next time as I was definitely one of the less vocal mums! However, I wouldn’t say that I just can’t let go, it’s more a personality thing, and as you say, we are all different.

    With regards to my writing I found it hard writing my first novel… I would constantly be aware that people I knew would read this, or more importantly my parents! So any intimate scenes were almost like scraping nails down a blackboard they made me cringe so much. However, with practice I find I don’t think like that now so I am much more free to write what I want to which means I can write the scenes the novel needs.

    Helen R 🙂

  6. Great post, Deirdre. Funny, I think I am a weird combination of the two things as, when it comes to myself, I can be a wallflower – wanting to get up and dance, but needing a few drinks to lose those inhibitions! Yet, I’m definitely one of the loudest when shouting for the kids at sports day or wanting my horse to romp home first in the National… I’m sure a psychologist could make quite a lot of that. 🙂

    With writing, I haven’t told that many people that I do it. I never post about it on Facebook, for example, outside of the closed group and I don’t really put links or likes on there that would give the game away – sorry, Alex, if you are reading this! I think it’s because I am a bit embarrassed and people might think it’s a joke. I’ve probably told more people in the last year, since I had some level of validation from the second read, but I can still only ‘let go’ about it with my closer friends.

    As for the writing itself, having taught E&D in the past, there’s always a part of me that questions whether something I’ve written might be offensive to someone and I second guess myself a lot with that. Submitting your novel to a reading panel, who effectively make the decision as to whether it gets published, heightens that anxiety even more for me. But as Julie once said, I think, I need to feel the fear, get up and do it anyway and dance like no-one’s watching! 😉 Jo

  7. I can guarantee that I’d be dancing and singing along with you Deirdre! But that’s the easy bit of letting go for me – in a crowd with great music where no one’s watching me – that’s absolutely fine. Letting go on the page is an entirely different thing! I think I’m getting better at it but it doesn’t come very easily to me. I know exactly what Helen R means about worrying about what your friends and family will think when they read my book. I’m pleased to hear that can get easier with time and practice! Alex xx

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