When I embarked on this journey of writing my tribute to my brother Eugene and his partner, Pieter, I did not anticipate the many decisions associated with process of writing. Ignorance is bliss! Being a novice to any endeavor means we are able to approach it with the naivety and wonder of a child. However, as we become more familiar with the subject we also become aware of the many challenges and choices we need to make.
As I am getting closer to completing the first draft of my book, I am aware of feelings of unease that are beginning to surface. I have spent so much time, energy and emotions on writing my book and now the time to share it with the world is drawing closer. For the duration of writing my book it was just me my feelings and reflections and the many memories of Eugene and the life he had lived. It was like being involved in a secret relationship. Now the time has nearly come for me to share that special relationship with others.
One of the many reasons that makes letting go of any piece of writing difficult is the need for perfection. No matter how well it is written, we can always rewrite it in different ways that may either subtly or substantially change the meaning thereof. The peril of perfection also means you are never satisfied with what you have written and you are always looking for the perfect way to express yourself and your ideas. The internal critic is forever striving for mythical perfection and if you let go and bring your writing into the world, the opportunity for further improvement will no longer be possible.
There is also the emotional element of letting go of a particular piece of writing. It is your baby and you have created it over a period of time and accepting that it has grown up and need to go into the world is part of the challenge. I also have enough self-awareness to know that once I let go of my book and put it out into the world, it will in some way be like letting go of Eugene and the shared life we had. It will bring a finality to the knowledge that future experiences I will encounter will be without Eugene’s knowledge and without the opportunity to share it with him.
Any creative process, writing included, requires a partnership between technique as well as emotions. It is much safer to focus on the technique and learning to craft words and sentences with technical expertise, but it is not enough. We need to be present in our writing, sharing our uncensored passions that come from the heart. We need to have the courage to dive into the depths of our emotions. This is all very well when it is just you and your writing, but sharing it with the world is a different kettle of fish.
Associated with the emotional challenge of letting go of a piece of writing is the possible criticism from others. It is inevitable that some readers will be offended by some of my statements, disagree with the opinions voiced and disapprove of my style of writing. The reality is that you can’t please all of them all of the time and this book was not written to please anyone. Its sole purpose was to share the story of two exceptional people with whoever may be interested in reading about their journey with terminal cancer. The challenge is to know when to let go and when enough is enough.
Ultimately it is about letting go of the need for approval, the fear of judgement, the fear of doing it right, the fear of ridicule, the fear of failure, the fear of upsetting others and so the list goes on. I will therefore in due course gather the courage to put my writing out there for all to see.