Sunday, September 15, 2013

On Writing

I've always written.  When I was in the sixth grade, my English teacher, Mrs. Estlack, told me that I was a good writer.  I didn't believe her, but I thought it was nice of her to say.  But she didn't stop saying it.  She was my English teacher for 7th and 8th grade too (hooray for small town schools), and eventually I thought she might know a thing or two.  So I kept after it.  In the meantime, I had a junior high reading teacher, Mrs. Adams, who fed me books as if she were keeping me alive.  And she was.

By the time I hit high school, my brother had already prepped my junior and senior English teacher, Mrs. Hayes, for my gift.  He had been in news writing events for her.  He's a "facts only" kind of guy, but he told her that when I got to high school, she should recruit me for every writing event BUT news writing.  My love for telling the story of others, my adoration of meandering sentences, my gift for embellishment, and my uncontrollable need to express my opinion would never be able to be constrained in the tight quarters of a news piece.

And he was right.  News writing was my least favorite event.

Mrs. Hayes told me that story as we sat in the LBJ library in Austin only moments after I had won a silver medal in the state editorial contest.  That story meant far more than any medal, and I love the Hell out of that medal.

For me, writing has always been about two things -- the writer and the reader.  I kept a journal for years, all the way through college and my first year of teaching.  But it was sporadic and tiresome because I kept my words and my world under lock and key.  I loved writing letters and cards.  I moonlighted writing essays for others in college.  I searched for the perfect words as if they were the Holy Grail because they were.  I loved those things because they had an audience.

Writers write because there is a need to spill themselves onto a page.  Readers read because they have a need to soak up knowledge and beauty and connection.  A writer can exist without a reader, but it's just a blood-letting, and that can only go on for so long.

When I began this blog, I began it with fear.  A fear that I sounded stupid.  Or whiny.  Or self-important.  Or worse -- hollow. I feared so much that I didn't even share my posts with anyone other than my closest friends.  I feared that I would write and no one would read, and all my deepest insecurities would become true.

But they didn't.  There were only a few of you at first, but you were there.  I felt you.

When things began to get really difficult in my life and within my family, I feared all over again.  I feared that people would judge us.  Or that they would pity us.  Or that they wouldn't care.  I feared that my sadness or my anger would drive others away.  I feared that I would only have sadness and anger to share ever.

But I didn't.  Writing took the anger and sadness out of me and allowed humor and beauty back in.

When I stopped writing, I feared that I would never start again.  Actually, that's not true.  I didn't feel fear because I didn't feel anything at that time.  I went months without posting or even opening up my page.  I kept following others though and their courage to tell their own stories helped bring me back to telling mine.  It takes a whole different kind of bravery to put your words to page sometimes.

But here I am.  It's 65 days later, and I have worked hard to share each day.  Like with anything else in life, some days have been easier than others, but they haven't been impossible.  For that, I am thankful.

Thank you for hanging around, friends.

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