By Gail Kittleson
Advent, from the Latin adventus, means “coming,” as in Christmas is coming. Some call this the season of darkness and possibility, and as such, it’s the perfect time to consider writing. Writers definitely experience darkness and possibility. Without the possibility part, we might simply stop. But everyone knows light becomes most obvious in darkness.
Discovering that feelings aren’t facts increases the possibility potential: we are far more than our emotions or our challenges. Each of us claims a treasure trove of contradictions, and we can learn to value even what we call our “dark side,” instead of letting it hinder us from life.
As we mature, we move into new territory, though fear may stalk. We can still love, though we’ve experienced hurt. And facing life’s dark side doesn’t preclude, but actually enhances happiness. We learn to celebrate life’s complexity and complications—what is, is.
How’s your writing coming? How many times have I asked—or been asked—that question? Sometimes we take it to mean “Are you published yet?” But this inquiry goes much deeper.
With its rich embrace of both shadow and light, life instructs us that our words matter: angry, loving, confused, conflicted, numb, empty, rich, shallow, full. Everything matters. And when we take on, through writing, everything that comes, it all becomes novel fodder.
What if we stopped judging ourselves and lived in the present moment, questions and all? What if we simply faced each day with an attitude of expectancy toward our writing and toward life in general? Both darkness and possibility will certainly arrive—we can greet each with attentiveness. We’re not published yet? Well, that’s a state to be embraced. That’s the darkness part, and at the same time, the possibility.
Words give us the capacity to respond. Sometimes, “We’ll see” makes a realistic philosophy. Living with ambiguity is tough, but possible. Through uncertain times, we discover our strengths.
Vexing situations work themselves out, but others will arise to take their place. That, we can count on.
But we can count on words, too. Our soul’s expression wells up within us, especially during difficult times, with a stability all its own. No matter what the situation, somehow we find words to verbalize meanings. Words rarely fail us, even when pain threatens to snuff them out.
In tandem with the sentiment, “While I breathe, I pray,” some people write, too, because they breathe—writing becomes part and parcel of our existence. From the time Mom sat me down at the kitchen table and showed me how to print my name, writing has accompanied me, a reliable friend.
I used to consider poetry the prime literary vehicle to express deep feeling, but eventually realized essays perform the same magic. I never even wanted to write a novel, but with growth and challenge, life’s “novel fodder” pirouetted me in that direction. It really is all novel fodder, if we befriend the shadows of possibility.
In the meantime, no matter how sharp our learning curve, what’s not to love about working with words? We’ll see how it all turns out. For now, we find contentment working in this season of darkness and possibility, like someone in a womb, attending their time to blossom.
A late-blooming writer, Gail Kittleson has instructed ESL and writing, facilitated grief workshops and women's retreats, and enjoyed being a wife, mom, and Grandma. She and her husband live in northern Iowa and do some wintering in the Arizona mountains. Her goal is to empower her readers.