By Christina Katz
Another of the many reasons I write is to grow. I recently doodled a picture of my writing career and it came out looking like a garden. Each row of plants represents something I do: writing, publishing, speaking, teaching, hosting, mentoring, etc. The money invested in my education both in the past and my continuing, ongoing education enrich the soil and allow for a steady stream of crops coming up season after season.
I love that feeling of putting good stuff in and getting good stuff out. Of composting the old writing to see what new something can grow out of the steaming, decomposing muck. The realization that what remains can be reused to enrich the next crop. That nothing goes to waste.
Given the economy, and the massive switch over to a “gig” economy from a more long-term career focus, some days I can’t believe how lucky I am to have started my garden over a decade ago, so that I’m not rushing and trying to catch up with the times.
I remember my early days as a writer though. There were just a few shoots coming up in my garden. I remember the feeling that I did not have enough gigs cropping up and the frustration of not being exactly sure what to do to get more.
I stayed with it though. I found mentors. I read books. I attended workshops. I went to writer’s conferences. I interviewed successful people I admired. And I expanded my skills beyond just writing.
We are living in changing times. The real farmers who have actual farms and acreage and seeds and the hope of future crops are in trouble. And just because I have created my own farm so to speak, which doesn’t require any actual soil, seeds, or crops, doesn’t mean I should turn my back on the real thing-the real world, I mean.
The Internet is swell. It has allowed me to have the career I’ve always wanted. However, I find myself needing to remember that I don’t live in the virtual world my 2.0 career thrives on. Rather, I live in the real world with real people and real pains and joys and middle places.
The Jungian psychologist Marian Woodman speaks often in her work about the shadow side of things. Every person has a shadow side. Deny the humanity of a person long enough and the shadow side will take over. The shadow side is unfeeling, numb, and insatiable, unlike the alive, intuitive, balanced self who can experience the full spectrum of emotions, connect and know beyond circumstance.
The saving grace for me, as a person who thrives in the Internet Age, is that I found my legs as a writer first. Writing has always helped me discover my feelings, communicate with others, and stretch as a human being. Writing has always been a way to grow. I am convinced that without writing my spirit would have been thwarted, stuck, and confined to that horrible feeling of darkness-my shadow.
The shadow is a cold, dark and miserable place to exist on a daily basis. And though I haven’t lived there in many, many years, if you’ve ever been there, then like me you know about the fear and hopelessness that chokes or smothers anything that wants to grow.
This summer, I hope you will come outside and play in the warm, fertile haven of the garden. You can even bring your notebook. Just be sure to get some dirt under your fingernails.
Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.