Last week, on a writing prompt from Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience, I wrote about resting in our disappointments, drawing from two very painful experiences from my past.

It was a risk to write like that. The stakes were high. And it showed. More people visited my blog and responded to that piece of writing than nearly any other I had published.

In her book The Right to Write, Julia Cameron says the level of writing and the height of the stakes go hand in hand.

When a writer writes from the heart of what matters to him personally, the writing is often both personal and powerful. When a writer writes to what he thinks the market needs–writes, in other words, without a personal investment–the standard of writing is often lowered along with the stakes.

She calls this kind of writing “finding your vein of gold” — from the metaphor of mining. She says a writer needs to find his territory (that place where the stakes are high) and mine it.

I call this kind of writing “cutting open a vein and bleeding out on the page.”

Not that I am opposed to a little bleeding for my art. In fact, in the not so distant past (as recent as the 1800s), practitioners of medicine used “bloodletting” as a way to cure or prevent illness. Draining the good out with the bad so that the good could rebuild itself. Writing does that for my soul, at times.

But I disagree with Julia that I always have to write with such high personal stakes or I am pandering to the market. Sometimes, I write about new things, posts like this in which I am writing about a topic in community. Sometimes I skirt the edges of my interests, trying out my writing in the form of poetry or essays about art. When I do those things, I’m not always writing from a deep passion, but I am writing out of curiosity. 

Julia says it’s up to the writer to figure out what matters to her and write about it. Doing so “may take a certain amount of courage,” she says. “This may mean that we do not meet with the immediate support from those who make decisions with an eye to the market.”

For me, the stakes are almost as high by writing outside of what I’m passionate about, as they are when I discover a gem deep in my soul, because either way I might be rejected. By an editor, by my readers, by my community. By you, even.

But though this writing may not be my “vein of gold,” it does give me time to heal from the blood letting. And who knows, I may find a new vein in the process, one that is equally rich for the mining. 

HighCallingBlogs.com Christian Blog Network

Today I am writing in community with other bloggers from the High Calling Blogs blogging community. This is our last week discussing Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write. If you would like to read what others are saying about this week’s chapters from Julia Cameron’s book, click on the button above. The next book club selection will be posted in September at HighCallingBlogs.com. I’ll post something here, too. Plan to join us, and if you are a blogger, read and post along!