June 10, 2020

Valuing My Experience by Sharon Espeseth

In her book, The Right to Write, 

Julia Cameron has a chapter called, “Valuing Our Experience.” She begins the chapter by saying, “We do not see our size.” Ms. Cameron goes on to express what I might blush to say, "We are far larger, far more marvellous, far more deeply and consistently creative than we recognize or know.” To that we might say, “But that’s not the way I was raised or what the Bible teaches. . .

I have, however, studied and practiced The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia and I know where she’s going with this. We are children of God the Creator and we have that divine spark of creativity within us. “Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.” This is #6 of her Basic Principles for The Artist’s Way (p.3)

I have mentioned my doing Morning Pages a la Julia Cameron in previous blogs.

Today I'll review some of my qualifications for writing--perhaps more to convince myself than you that I have life experience helpful for writing. In doing so, I may convince you to self-evaluate as well.

I’ve Been Every Age

I’ve been through every age and stage of life from newborn to toddler to teenager, to young adult, middle-ager and senior. I’m in the decade that makes me a septuagenarian, but I am still a fairly healthy and independent person.

Hank and I Playing Cards with Some of the Kida

I’ve Lived, Not Just Played, Many Roles

From daughter, to granddaughter, sister, friend, spouse, mom, mother-in-law, cousin, niece, aunt, grandparent, school teacher, caregiver, employee, student, and probably several roles that don’t come to mind--I’ve been or still am most of these.

I’ve Worked in a Variety of Jobs (volunteer and paid)

From babysitter to secretary, waitress to writer, Sunday school teacher, youth and camp counsellor, musician at church, leading in writing groups, editing informally, writing school material for distance education. . .

I Have Experience. . . 

In teaching, writing (with clips and a few awards), parenting, marriage, grandparenting, friendships, caregiving, travel, gardening, hiking, biking, playing a few sports, skipping double Dutch, singing, playing a piano (without virtuosity), cooking, baking, canning, camping, horseback riding, and zip lining (only once, but what an experience zipping over jungle canopy in Costa Rica!) These are the activities that quickly came to mind. I have also dated, fallen in love and adopted children. I have read many of the classic novels in English and I struggled through a few in French some years ago.

I Have Written and had published. . . 

Essays, articles, creative non-fiction, poetry, flash fiction, memoir, and stories of faith, and stories in anthologies.

Stories in a Few Anthologies

Yes, I Value Experience 

But as Julia Cameron says,

          “We must be small enough, humble enough, to always be a beginner, an observer.
          We must be open to experience, new experience, new sources of knowledge and 
          insight, while still staying grounded in the fact that what we already know and 
          have done is also estimable, also important.”
                                                                  (The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, p. 49)
Discipline or Routine

I know I do better creatively, mind-wise, emotionally and spiritually when, or if, I can write those three hand-written pages--what Cameron calls Morning Pages--first thing in the a.m. She doesn’t think of this as “discipline," which she calls "a thankless word."

Instead it is “a creative routine,” which she says we all would do well to establish: “a rote, do-able, daily something that is there to fall back on.” For you, it may be another time or another way, but I know from valuable past experience this works for me. Now I need to figure out how to get this going as standard procedure even in our present circumstances.  I’ll need some help on this.

Hank, The Norwegian and I

Dear Lord, 

            If I am still called to write, help me write. Help me to manage my time better, to get rid of time-consuming clutter--of stuff, of burdens, of doubts and time wasters. Help me to develop a routine that would give me the space, the time, the comfort and the sense of peace that my writing affords, while not neglecting the ones who need me most. If in the process of writing, I should write something that would bless, comfort, or encourage someone else, help me to get it to them in published form or personal note. Amen.

Praising your name, 

The following poem, I had previously written in the second person. I am now rewriting it in the first person, so it hits home. You may like it in first person too.

Filling the Blanks
 By Sharon Espeseth

The page is empty.
Only I can fill it.

No one else knows
            that pattern of words
            that strand of ideas
            that bent of emotion
            that weave of life’s experience.

My pen, my fingers
            feel the rhythm
            of my story.


  1. Yes, I'd say you are highly qualified! And thank you for that prayer. It is one I also need to pray.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Lynn, and you are, of course, welcome to pray that prayer. I just read this quote by Picasso: "The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away."

  3. Such a wonderful and celebratory post. "Knowing"you, (mostly from here online but also meeting you a couple of times in person at conferences) I kn ow that this must have been difficult to write in that you are such a humble person and don't want to appear to be bragging. but you do, indeed, have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Recognizing and celebrating isn't the same as the kind of pride that puffs up. thank you for the faithfulness you have shown us by your beautiful and honest words when ev er you share on the blog. I pray that God will continue to give you the strength to continue for a long while yet! I fell confident in calling you "friend" and value your life experiences and example.

    1. And... obviously didn't proofread my comment before hitting publish!!!

  4. What a beautiful post, Sharon! Your words reminded me of the verse, "Remember all the way the Lord led you...". God brings us to this moment of our calling through many paths that may appear to us as detours, winding trails, or even dead ends. But your words of wisdom remind me to keep my eyes on Jesus, and in humility say with you, "If in the process of writing, I should write something that would bless, comfort, or encourage someone else, help me to get it to them in published form or personal note. Amen." (Beautiful poem, too!!)

  5. Thank you, Sandi. The verse you mention makes me thing of the hymn, “All the way my Saviour leads me. What have I to ask beside. Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my Guide. . . I haven’t thought of this hymn for a while, so I looked up the lyrics. . . Amen. Blessings, Sandi, as usual you got us going on some interesting themes.

  6. Yes, you are a talented writer. An encourger for other writers. Thanks for sharing your prayer - one that I could use as well.

  7. You have such a wonderful way of weaving words, Sharon. They touch my heart every time. Thanks


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