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In her book, Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal, Alexandra Johnson quotes Franz Kafka: “Writing,” Kafka jotted in his journal, “is the axe that breaks the frozen sea within” (p. 9). If you let your imagination roam freely, you run into the multiple possible meanings of “the frozen sea within.” As a writer you ask yourself, “What has this to do with me? I’m not depressed like Kafka was. Or am I?” These questions lead to viewing “the frozen sea within” as frozen emotions.
What emotion is embedded in the ice? Anger, sadness, fear, shame, guilt, bitterness, despair, hope, love, joy and/or ecstasy? Your ice could contain any or all of these emotions or emotions yet unnamed. But would an axe be the proper tool used to gain access or maybe axecess to frozen feelings? A bomb, maybe? Or, would that label you as prone to explosive outbursts? In any case, if you use an axe, you run the risk of killing or maiming your feelings. What can you do?
Melting the Ice
Melt the ice. “How can I do that?” With access to modern machinery, Kafka may have recommended using a blowtorch. But that would be overkill, with “kill” being the operative word. You don’t want to kill your feelings even though at some point you chose to embed them in ice. And that’s not n-ice. Paradoxically, you may have stored your feelings in ice because you felt you had to always be nice. That’s the ice in nice. However, if you allow yourself to treat (not tweet) your feelings with compassion, you could melt the ice with the fire of your love. “But what if my thawed-out feelings leave a muddy puddle of accumulated coffee that I drank frantically to break through writer’s block?” That won’t happen unless you ingested too much Kafkaee. I do like reading Kafka but too much Kafka may result in muddy puddles.
The Fire of Your Love
The fire of your own love may be difficult to stoke for a variety of reasons. Therefore, it helps if you believe in a higher power. From a Christian perspective, God’s love is the fire that can melt the ice, freeing your feelings and liberating the writer within. “The Fire of Your Love” is a song by Paul Wilber from his album Holy Fire. Some relevant lines from the song are the following: “The fire of Your love is burning within me, Consuming my heart, Restoring my soul.” “On Fire” is a song by Switchfoot from their album, The Beautiful Letdown. Four relevant lines from the chorus of the song are the following: “And you’re on fire, When He’s near you, You’re on fire, When He speaks.”
The liberated Writer
God liberates. Societal shoulds imprison. As a writer you need to have access to all your emotions. God allows this, without judgment. Don’t let religious shoulds replace societal shoulds. God’s a free-thinker. Once your feelings are thawed and your rigid belief systems are dissolved, you can write with divine fire. Even Kafka wrote from a meaning larger than himself. Louis Begley states, “…Kafka had realized that he lived for one transcendent reason only: to write stories and novels” (“Kafka: The Axe for the Frozen Sea inside Us”).
Remember God’s first writer’s commandment: If I call you to be a writer, write without inhibition. Write from love, not for money. Write on My sky with your pen of fire.
Photo by Steve Jurvetson