Updated: Oct 1
Intuitive (Eco)Writing is the culmination of all my passions put into a blender, juiced up and ready to serve.
Writing has been my passion since puberty when I discovered that my creative expression came through best with words. I pursued prose since and have been a professional writer and writing instructor for decades, receiving my MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2005. I published two books with independent presses, a novella and poetry chapbook, as well as short stories, poems, essays, book reviews, listicles and a few pieces of “real” journalism. I have taught at colleges, writers’ conferences, high schools, camps and more. I have directed writers’ programs, curated readings and coached writers. Basically, if you can make a career out of writing, I’ve tried it all.
Yet concerns about my career surfaced in 2020 at the peak of my success. I was making good money and just published my second book, Gestation, but I felt dissatisfied with my work. I was disenchanted by the publishing world, which required 20 rejections for every publication. The industry that I had spent decades studying and serving, shapeshifted in my perception from a benign conglomerate of book lovers to a devilish social hierarchy. Suddenly, all I could see was a vicious cycle of underpaid published writers teaching novice writers struggling to get noticed by gatekeepers who could publish them in journals that only other writers read. The signs were all there, but I chose to ignore them. I had been so fixated on this singular path for so long, I could not see that it no longer made me happy. I was ready to move on.
But what the hell was I going to do about it? I had encased my entire identity around being a writer. Who was I if I wasn’t a writer? If I stopped being a writer, was I a quitter? Was I giving up? I was holding on tight. I would require a declawing, perhaps a phalanges amputation to convince myself that a writing career was no longer right for me no matter how dissatisfied I felt.
In order to figure out who I was now, I had to become no one, nobody, nothing. I had to try on ambiguity and alienation like an itchy smelly old coat that was the only thing to keep me warm in arctic conditions.
I hid myself in a cocoon where I was deeply supported by my family and a small group of friends. I stopped working for a few months. The pandemic arrived simultaneously to further insulate me. I had to allow for the darkness of this cocoon time, to go deep into the void of mystery and not turn away from myself. It wasn’t pretty.
Inside a chrysalis, a caterpillar eats itself from the inside out. Literally. It uses its own digestive juices to decompose its old physical form, creating new cells called imaginal cells. Imaginal cells can become anything; they are cells in a liminal state of being. They exist in nothingness; they are neither that which they were before nor that which they will become.
The word imaginal is often used in Jungian psychology. The imaginal realm is a place deep within our subconscious where we channel dreams, archetypes, imagery, stories, metaphors and myths. Jung considered the imaginal realm to be the language of the soul or the psyche.
As the imaginal cells of the caterpillar exist in the cocoon, so does personal transformation exist in a dark insulated void, waiting to be dreamed into a butterfly.