This is a great month for new books in our contemplative community! Last week, I reviewed Ed Cyzewski’s new book, Independent Publishing for Christian Authors. And TODAY is release day for a wonderful new book by Andi Cumbo-Floyd — Love Letters to Writers: Encouragement, Accountability, and Truth-Telling. I’m thrilled to offer an excerpt from this book below.
Andi’s book consists of 52 letters (love letters!) to writers. The letters share bits of Andi’s own writing journey and offer wisdom and encouragement for others on the writing path. For the times we’re in need of practical guidance, Andi’s book has advice, suggestions, and practices for getting our writing done each day. What about when we need a dose of hope? Yep, this book’s got that, too. With honesty and love, Andi’s letters encourage us and keep us company when the writing path is difficult.
Enjoy this excerpt from Love Letters to Writers on creating space so that our words can breathe.
Dear Beautiful People,
If you would, close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful thing you’ve ever experienced. Let it pull you close . . . see the colors, hear the movement stilled for a split second, and lean into the void of nothing around the color or sound you experience. What I want you to feel, my friends, is the emptiness there. Let it tug at you, pull you in.
Now, sit where you are in this moment. Turn down the music. Dim the lights if you can. Walk outside or into a closet to quiet if you need. Feel the nothingness that is most of the space around you . . . then feel deeper, feel the energy there. Take a deep breath. And another. And another.
I’ve been taking a lot of deep breaths lately. This morning, I went out to the garden to harvest, as I do each morning this time of year. Usually, I put in earbuds and listen to a podcast or book, but this morning, I went out bare with the gentle intention of holding space for whatever I needed to hear or see.
I picked cucumbers and then started to walk by the asparagus beans, taking note that they had their purple blossom dresses on. But then, I slowed and bent nearer . . . and there were beans, three-foot long beauties that had been there for days—days when I had walked past this trellis fifty times. But each time, I had been so busy doing whatever it was I thought needed me that I had missed them . . .
I spent the next minutes twisting the bean vines up onto the trellis with gentle twirls so that I wouldn’t miss the beans again.
Here’s what I take from those few moments: I have to hold space to be surprised. I have to hold space to see the fruits of what I’ve done. I have to hold space for my words to find new climbing trellises. I have to hold space wide open and take the gifts that are given.
Maybe you are much better at this than I am, but if you’re not, try this week to hold space for two things:
- Hold space for nothing. Intentionally create short periods (or long periods if you have them) of time where you just wander or sit on the porch and stare or look out the window at the rain. Notice what you think about, what your mind feels like, how your breath slows.
- Hold space for your words. Writing is not something that happens spontaneously, at least not in my experience. We have to be creating space for it, space to think, space to let ideas percolate, space for the actual manifestations of language to be noticed, and space for the physical act of extracting those words and writing them down.
So this week, my friends, try slowing down. Stare at beautiful things. Listen to music without doing anything else. Read a book for three hours in a row if you can. Give yourself space so that your words can breathe, too.
Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, four dogs, four cats, six goats, three rabbits, and thirty-six chickens. She writes regularly at andilit.com.
Buy Andi’s new book on Amazon!