Save(d) draft

I was wondering the other day what my writing output has been like over these last two years, and my site stats show that I’ve published 182 posts. Which averages to about a post every 4 days (although most of that is thanks to my daily posting at the beginning of Covid). While that was useful, what was more interesting were the 42 posts that were saved as drafts.

Some are nearly complete, but most are a few sentences, or just a phrase that captured an idea I had in the moment. I have a notebook that I carry with me everywhere, full of scribble and shorthand as I hastily take down some interesting factoid that I’d come across, or a line in some book I was reading; the Notes app on my phone has lists and lists of random ideas.

I have been a writer as long as I can remember. At 6 or 7 I created my first picture book, a dozen pages in my large, careful, childish hand, all bound together by ribbons strung through holes I punched out with a sharp pencil. From long-hand entries in countless journals, to stories and poems saved on my first Mac (remember floppy disks?), I wrote constantly. In high school I was in a writing club; I even wrote a short novel.

We all have ways of processing the world, and of discovering our authentic selves. I have a friend from back home in Hawaii who is a realtor, but who feels truly himself, and truly a part of the world, only when he’s in the ocean, draped over his surfboard and squinting over his shoulder, waiting for a good set to roll in. My mom is an exquisite cook, and finding the right recipe for the right occasion, perfecting a new technique, creating and conjuring memories through food – these are where she’s most creative, most engaged, most at peace.

For me, it’s been an even split between performing and writing. I’ve told people that being on the podium is the most comfortable place in the world, because I feel so focused and grounded in myself and in the present. But performance is also my job, my career, and so there’s always the sense that it’s not something I’m creating for myself. In fact I like performing precisely because it’s actually about other people; the orchestra in front of me, the audience behind me. Everything I do is in service of them, not myself.

Writing is selfish. And I don’t mean that in any pejorative sense. It’s selfish in the sense that I do it for me, in service of me. I work through my heartache, process my trials, celebrate my discoveries through writing. And it becomes a tangible reminder of where I’ve been and what I thought and felt; it’s like looking back at an earlier iteration of myself through the words I’ve put down. It’s clearer than any photo.

Putting those words out into the world, for public consumption – that’s a whole other case. Writing becomes an act of faith. Because while I know that writing is a deeply personal process, I have to believe that this process could be meaningful for someone else. When I write these posts, I imagine that someone, somewhere, reads my words and realizes that there are others who have gone through what they have gone through, who have shared the same emotions. I imagine that someone, somewhere, feels understood. That someone, somewhere feels a little less alone.

I was in Hawaii last week for a set of concerts (and a few stolen hours on the beach!), and an orchestra member knocked on my dressing room door before our final rehearsal. They had been following my blog, and had been touched by my writing, especially about my father’s suicide. How brave you are to put your stories out there, they said. I’ve never really felt brave, I said, it’s just that putting my stories out into the world makes me process my thoughts more clearly for myself, and I hope that I can contribute something to someone else in doing so.

Then we talked about my father’s death and the challenges I’d gone through; we both got a little teary. Then they said, you know, it’s so illuminating to read your posts. I think of you as this glamorous figure onstage, always calm and gracious, but you really have gone through so much. It makes me think of all of the things that we all keep hidden away, they said, and how much more there is to each of us than we could possibly imagine, and how much you’ve struggled to become the person you are.

And with those words, I suddenly felt understood.

It’s funny how writing can come around like that; the words that were borne of my own need to process led to someone else’s reflection, which led me to feel acknowledged and accepted for who I am. And that I’m not alone.

And this is why I write, and will continue to write.

3 thoughts on “Save(d) draft

  1. Sylvain B. Cote says:

    おはようございます La Maestra,

    you’re post help me make the link with your other posts. It was like a prequel for me. Interesting insights. I liked when you said you always carry a notebook with you.

    There is a quote I like a lot. It is from Paul Auster : “Un livre, c’est le seul lieu au monde où deux étrangers peuvent se rencontrer de façon intime.” It basically means : a book is the only place in the world where two strangers can meet intimately. It tells me that we’re all entangled somehow in this reality. Food for thoughts.

    I’m off today. I’lll send you my novelesque Lenny story at sarahhicksconductor.com.

    Prends soin de toi et tes proches, Sarah. xo

    -30-

    Like

  2. rpatterson0577 says:

    I definitely hope you continue to write. It’s not often I’m fortunate enough to read from someone that has the depth that you do !!

    Like

  3. Wayne Zelenak says:

    Sarah, reading your Corona Virus Diary, has been an inspiring journey. We’ve shared some intimate words as viral friends miles apart. I’ve learned about you challenges in Curtis with cutting remarks from your professor about women entering the field of conducting. Your story reminds me of the lyrics of “Nothing” from Chorus Line, where the teacher, Mr. Karp, in the high school of performing arts tells the student that she will never make it in show business and she would accomplish nothing. The other students were allowed to ridicule her in class. In the end of the Mr. Karp dies, and she felt nothing.

    I love writing also, for the past six years I’ve completed a compendium of inspirational stories and completed my book entitled “The Eloquence of Expression,” focusing on the passion of artists, writers, painters, and those in the performing arts.

    With your profound story about your dad, I have experienced suicide with my family and friends as we shared our grief that has become part of us. We have shared intimate stories in your diary, I only wished over the two years we could have communicated through a chat session or e-mail.

    Lastly, I love Sylvain’s quote from Paul Auster, “a book is the only place in the world where two strangers can meet intimately.” He is an American author, and film director. His books have be translated into forty languages. Over the last two years, I admired your writing ability and choice of words so explicitly expressed.

    Leaving a reply on your comments page requires me to send an e-mail. I hope you will respond the same way, to share some of my writings. My advice to you, keep writing, I appreciate who you are as a person.

    Like

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