Coming Full Circle
What if the moments of the greatest wounding in your life were also places where the Divine crossed your path and the unquenchable dream of your life was born? Imagine seeing a pad of paper lying near you with nothing drawn on the page but a circle that is not closed. Purpose, ultimately, is the drive to close that circle.
– Dawna Markova, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life
I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of coming full circle…what it means to me, why it might be important and what one is to do when a circle is complete.
I figured the best way to explore and articulate my thoughts on this concept would be through the eyes of a special someone who had been watching me from afar: one of my first writing mentors, Shirley.
Shirley didn’t teach me what to write – or how to write. Rather, Shirley simply allowed me to write. And she did this by teaching a workshop on the ‘freefall’ writing method, which is basically just sitting down with pen and paper and jotting down whatever comes to mind…no internal or external editing allowed.
I first met Shirley at the Alexandra Writer’s Centre in Calgary in 1997, after my husband John and I first moved back from BC as newlyweds. When John died from a fall three years later, I did some serious free-falling of my own in the form of scrawling down reams of rambling thoughts, gut-wrenching emotions and a play-by-play recreation of as many horrific moments as I could remember.
Unfortunately, I found it very difficult to turn off the internal editor in those early days – partly because I wanted to get the manuscript done right the first time (hah!) so that I could ‘get on with my life’ and partly because by editing what I was writing, I could pretend that I was somewhat in control of a situation – namely my mental state – that was, in fact, rapidly spiraling out of control. So by telling some future reader why John had died, I remained under the illusion that I actually knew myself.
It wasn’t until the seven-year editing process where professional editors gently guided me through the quagmire of my own words that the essence of the story, the life lessons and the meaning in John’s death were discovered…or created. Or perhaps a bit of both.
When I gave a presentation at the Alexandra Writer’s Centre in November 2009, about the experience of writing my book, A Widow’s Awakening, guess who showed up?
“I loved your book,” Shirley said to me after my presentation. “And I heard you’re giving a creative writing workshop here next weekend?”
Shirley leaned in towards me, beaming. “You’ve come full circle, my friend. You’re carrying on the tradition of sharing what you’ve learned as a writer . . . and that’s what it’s all about.”
I ran around the table and gave her a big hug.
And then, wouldn’t you know it, but it was the very next day that I saw the play – I, Claudia – that would end up changing my life. Six months later, I’d sold my Calgary home and moved to Vancouver Island.
When I look back now at Shirley’s comment, I can’t help but smile. She was right . . . I had come full circle. I’d returned to Calgary a student of writing; thirteen years later, I left again – as a writer and teacher of writing.
I received a lovely e-mail the other day from a woman who took that same writing workshop of mine a year ago. “Thank you for inspiring me,” she wrote. “I’ve been working on my manuscript ever since and am now ready to find an editor. Can you recommend one?”
I leaned back in my chair and smiled. Full circle, indeed.
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc. She also writes play scripts, screenplays, short stories, articles and children’s stories. For details on Maryanne’s writing workshop, Telling the Tale; the Art of Writing and Self-Publishing Creative Non-Fiction, please visit pinkgazelle.com.