Monday, October 5, 2015

The Stormy First Draft

    Whenever I feel mad, hurt, disappointed, or feel like I'm a failure a story starts in my head. It is normal to rehearse our stories. We all do it. Finding meaning in an emotional experience is human. But when emotions drag us down it is wise to become curious about our story.
   I think of Jonah, in the Old Testament, who seemed overcome with negativity when he was commanded to preach in Ninevah. So strong were his feelings that he ran the other way.

Jonah 1:3 "But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa;"
Ninevah was an evil city filled with Godless people and Jonah was mad that God would ask him to teach there. He was even madder when they repented and God chose to save them from destruction.

Jonah 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

  Jonah had a story in his head which did not include the mercy of God, only the justice. He rumbled with God and the story ends with the fateful words:

Jonah 4:10 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
    And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

The end leaves me wondering if Jonah will come to the question, "Why should God save me?" His emotions and fears clouded his judgement.

   One way through  emotions is to write. Dr. Brené Brown suggests writing a stormy first draft from the point of view of our five-year old self.

"Curiosity is a (s---)-starter, but that's okay. Sometimes we have to rumble with a story to find the truth."

   Our five-year old is dramatic and "over the top" self involved. But, she is going to reveal herself in a more honest way than the controlled sixty-year old. I have a few stormy first drafts tucked into my art journal. I wrote them on really nice paper but don't be deceived, they are unedited emotional spewing.
  Here are some things my first draft includes:
  1. My emotions and feelings concerning this story
  2. The reactions my body is having
  3. The thoughts that keep going around and around my head
  4. The beliefs I have regarding myself
  5. The actions I have taken  and want to take in regard to my story
   Drafting a story with all our petty anger and resentment can bring us deeper into the rumble. I had a humorous rumble this weekend which I will share tomorrow.

  I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.


  1. I really like that phrase, we have to rumble with a story to find the truth. There are often a lot of bumps in the rumble, aren't there. And first drafts? Great analogy there too. Enjoying your series Gabriele!

    1. The word rumble reminds me of West Side Story. The two gangs are ready to take each other on just like or conflicting feelings.

  2. I am enjoying your series! Some good stuff! I like this writing from an over the top 5 year old perspective idea to get the emotions out.

    1. It is fun to write it the way we say it in our heads sometimes. Of course we edit our thoughts when we see how ridiculous they are.

  3. I like this- I have always found journalling helpful to let emotions out unedited and letting it out does help to work towards a more balanced perspective and finding the truth.

    1. Writing somethings with unedited passion makes the cleaned up version much clearer.

  4. Absolutely love her description of journaling as a s*** starter! Love the idea of rumbling (it also makes me think of West Side Story)...we do have to be completely honest with ourselves before we can move on...and blocking the path to this honesty only makes for negative emotions (health issues) appearing. I've definitely learnt that the only way is through and that the only way through is dealing with 'stuff' head on. No other way offers any workable long-term solution.


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