Set fire to the words



I have read quite a bit recently from authors who don’t feel as though they are writers.

They share hopes and fears that: “One day I’ll be a real writer” “I’m working on becoming a writer” “Some day I’ll be good enough to consider publishing my work” “This is just my beginning work” “I’m not the best, but I’m sharing what I can”.

I’ve suffered with these fears and soft hopes for years myself.

And I long to tell them they are under an illusion, the illusion that there is some “right” way to write.  There is only one way to write, with your spirit blazing a trail of words across the page, the paper, the screen – does your heart and soul set the words on fire?

They, we, are already Writers.

When we feel as though we are waiting for “someday” to arrive when we magically feel as though we’re true writers we are giving in to the fear, giving in to the demons. Because there is no someday. The moment you pick up the pen, put your fingers to the keys, you are a Writer.

This doesn’t mean you can’t, or won’t, refine your work. Follow your subject of passion, Find your voice in the words, share your stories as the infinite magical, often harrowing, realms they can be.

I have read many, many books and articles on subjects I have a strong passion for, a love of reading about, and yet I find myself, often within the first chapter, falling asleep at the words crawling across the page. These writers, have been published, have even had MANY books published, may even be quite wealthy from their writing. And everyone acknowledges them as writers.

However, to me? They were more like parrots, reciting the words they’d heard or read or researched. They have no passion, no spirit involved in the work, and it shows.

Think of the best book, story, blog post, you’ve ever read – forget the subject of it, and think about what it made you feel, why it left you feeling that way. It’s unlikely due to the factual information, the perfect grammar, or even the background of the author – though they may all play a part in what you’re reading… What really drags us in, over and over again, is the feeling that the writer imparted, the passion they shared, for whatever they were writing about.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine. – Pablo Neruda

J.R.R. Tolkien took over ten years to write The Lord of the Rings, a story that is still to this day – 60 years after it was published, and decades after the authors death, ranked as one of the top books to multiple generations of people. He had a passion for the story, one so deep that when publishers “edited” his words in a version or two, he went back and made them reprint their “mistake”, to print it as he wrote it. Because this was his story, and that is what mattered. Not how he told it… Not whether anyone else would understand the elven language (though he spent years on a dictionary for that too, he was so involved in the tale), or be bothered by names like Mordor or Aragorn. His concern was that his story, his… story… was told as it was meant to be.

And think about that.. the editors/publishers were striving for some idea of perfect writing. Tolkien was striving for perfection in the tale, to be true to his ideas, his dreams, his Writing.

Tolkien is just one example of an author who wrote imperfectly, if you will, created a world like no other, and succeeded BECAUSE of his unique spirit coming through in to the story, on to the pages, in to our lives.

So next time you’re doubting your own writing skills, your grammar, your verbiage, punctuation, language, whatever is holding you back from sharing your self, your passion, Stop. Let go of the doubt. Move on to the words, the feeling you have that inspires you to write at all, and just open up.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—    – Emily Dickinson

If you feel a passion for disco dancing, write about that, write about the love you feel when you look at your lover, the trees outside, write about the way baking soda mixes with vinegar, write about the way your toes curl when the chocolate first hits your tongue, or fear you have of spiders, or just your fear. Bring to your words the fire alive in your soul. Whatever that may be, it doesn’t matter, what matters is how you feel about it, that’s what we read, that’s what we feel when we read. I don’t have to believe in God the way Rumi does to feel the immense divine love he shares, I don’t need to be a child wizard to enjoy reading Harry Potter, I don’t even have to be able to Cook to love reading a great cookbook.

I just have to sense the passion, the love, the sense of awe the author had at the story itself, to fall in love with the words.

Now go write, Let the music of your soul pour forth.

(And send me a link!! I love to read other people’s thoughts and dreams!)

“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.”
― Sylvia Plath, Ariel


Bending the Page

While I’m sitting here, stalling myself from really writing, I’m reading spam emails, writing FB posts, starting a new book read.. I began to wonder at the places we leave off.

Particularly when it comes to books.

I’ve begun to go back to the library more in the last year or so – when I was a young girl I would come home with stacks of books, it wasn’t unusual for me to have 25-35 books, and be reading them all at some point – no book ever went unread I promise you. Of course sometimes this meant I had over two dozen books with late fees on them, but thankfully most libraries will waive childrens fees (or did then).

“I saw you standing in the same way then, but I can’t remember where or when.”

Somehow I fell out of library practice (I think it occured when I was in my early twenties, ended up with some $90 in late fees and never felt up to dealing with it so I just.. didn’t) but there in the dark winters of NW WA state I found my way back to the local library. Now in California again I have picked up the habit with a vengence.

“the force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives my blood.”

I’m surrounded by 15 library books at the moment (this does not include my own stash of course), I think I’ve read 10 of them and I don’t want to return them just yet because, well, I want to reread parts of them.

“Oh, you mean change your thoughts.”
“No, thoughts are powerless.
They are neutral.
It’s the belief you have in them which has the power.
It’s all in the emotion. Think of emotion as energy in motion.”
-Writing down your Soul

Lacking enough random slips of paper to hold my pages (and sometimes those slips fall out) and not wanting to follow in the footsteps or fingerprints of those that have marked the pages with ink, I’ve started folding the corners before I turn the page. A bookmark of a sort, one I never would have thought I’d find myself doing.


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.

Marking a book?! A library book?! In some small way it seems to mark it, crudely yes though somehow without the sin of a mark of pen.

There are a thousand ways to go to sleep,
to walk through our lives unaware of and unable to be with what is
and so unconscious of what and who we are.
…We are rarely still. We seldom find Silence.
We do not rest.
And tired people do not want to wake up,
don’t have the energy to wake up,
can’t even fathom it as a possibility.
-The Call

But here I am, marking the books, even temporarily, as mine.

And I wonder, as I’m reading and I catch another readers, now unbent, markings in the book;

where were they when they did this?

what were they reading?

Did this mark where they left off, or where they wanted to return?

what words spoke to them on this page, that held them there in mind and body, even soul, to mark it?

My eyes roam the pages, wondering at the  moment it’s edges were bent.

Why have I been marking them? Because something there rang true, something there on the page was like a bell, tolling an awareness I lacked before. A light came on in the dimness of my day, and I wanted to return.


I am in between stories. The old one is gone,
and the new one is just beginning to take shape. -The Call

But I also wonder, where do we leave off in life? Where and when do we “mark” our days as we do these pages, to come back to, to find what we might otherwise forget?

**All text in red italics is not my writing or my words and I hold no ownership over them.

Veronica Yem

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