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Nessa McCasey

Writing Our Hearts Out
August-September 2004

by Nessa McCasey

We are very pleased to welcome Nessa McCasey to SoulfulLiving.com as our newest monthly columnist!  Each month, Nessa will offer a poem or short writing based on our magazine's monthly theme and will provide techniques for creative expression that you can use to explore the topic yourself.

Writer’s Block and Then… Moving Forward Again

This issue’s theme of Moving Forward left me in a quandary of writer’s block and personal soul-searching. Ahhhh, I thought, this is going to be a poetry therapy exercise for myself! The power of creativity for me, as my strongest vehicle for soul work, is in this process of not knowing the answer before I begin writing. Where am I going with this? I am writing to find out. First, though, I asked for help. I asked some poetry therapy friends for suggestions of poems about Moving Forward, Moving On. I received many wonderful responses from these generous friends. The gifts come to us, don’t they? If only we enter into the process of our lives, really enter into that life of ours, we will begin to know the gifts that wait for us…

Here’s the poem that I chose to work with. My hope is that through reading the poem and working with my subsequent writing suggestions, you will find entry points into your own process whether that be problem-solving, creative exploration, expressive celebration, or even prayerful meditation.

Keeping Things Whole
— Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Copyright Protected Material – For Educational/Therapeutic Use Only

Writing Suggestions

  • It might be said that we all have many reasons for moving forward. What are your reasons for your own movements? Write about one that is most significant to you (or as many as you wish).
  • Consider this line from the poem: "Wherever I am, I am what is missing." Write about what this means to you, or about anything that arises as you muse about it. One thing that comes up for me is a take-off on that line: "Wherever I go, I follow myself around." My writing went on to tell me that I tend to overanalyze myself, "following myself around." What might your writing tell you?
  • This poem also seems to offer a celebration of The Whole. How are you part of the Whole that is this world? How are you part of the way that our world is transforming itself right now, and we see that daily, don’t we, in our era of great change right now?
  • Last, if you have ever been frustrated with that stuck feeling of writer’s block, or in fact, any sort of inactivity or frozenness, you might consider asking IT a question, as if it were a person: What do you have to tell me? What would your writer’s block have to tell you? What are you staring at that wants you to listen deeply? If you can give a face to your fear, perhaps you can start a conversation that will tell you plenty and then, of course, you can respond in a caring way to ensure some form of resolution, some bit of healing that is inevitably a form of movement forward.

Rather than offering a specific wisdom regarding the notion of Moving Forward, I am suggesting something different. Something that I truly believe in. I am asking you to write the answers for yourself. This is a way of divining truth, and it comes from within you. It may be a journey to start to trust your own wisdom, but starting to write, just for yourself, is one way to begin.

For me, the writing process is an amazing, efficient tool for getting into the core of my issues. I can’t hide from myself as I begin to inquire honestly, comfortably, even sacredly and enter into a writing time. I walk around my issue, I walk away from it (I can do the dishes instead!!), I avoid it, I doubt myself, and I feel guilty about not doing something else (and of course, this is a long list of other things). But eventually, I start with the first step that usually feels like I have just moved a mountain once I have taken it. I start to move forward, rather than to continue going around in circles. For example, I asked for help from my friends in the form of suggesting poems on this topic.

As with other spiritual tasks, I finally had to "enter" into this process. It is my hope that you will find some tools here to work with, for yourself. And you might also consider the process that I went through myself. It’s why I so fully believe in the powers of poetry therapy, as well as all expressive therapies, for that matter. I use it for my own stuff.

This is the reality of moving forward. Finding a way to unwedge yourself from being stuck.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss your writing or your writing block. If you are working with a mental health professional, your writing on the suggestions above may provide you with additional material to work with in that forum. I am not a mental health practitioner, so I encourage you to seek professional support if you discover important or overwhelming issues for yourself.

I am always glad to offer additional writing prompts to keep your forward momentum going as you explore this amazing world through the powers of exploratory writing. Be well as you go forward today and all days!

with peace and love,

© Copyright 2004 Nessa McCasey.  All Rights Reserved.

Read Nessa McCasey's Past Columns:

April - May 2004 - Identifying Our Crossroads

January - February 2004 - Daring to Dream Out Loud

December 2003 - Joining Together with Our Words of Grace

November 2003 - Midlife Questioning: One Writer's Path to Learning

October 2003 - Can We Write (or Read) Our Way to Serenity?

Nessa McCasey
Nessa McCasey, A former technical editor for NASA, street/performance poet in Denver, corporate writer, single mom, marketing communications specialist, and church music director. She is charting a new path for work and life in the profession of Poetry Therapy serving as a State Representative for the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) where she facilitates group or individual poetry therapy sessions and presents poetry and writing workshops to jump-start others in their own powers of creative expression. You can reach Nessa at: poetnessa@writersofwrongs.com


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