I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me. –Anna Quindlen
Is This You?
You have a story inside your heart, inside your head. It comes in breaths, in whispers; wakes you up in the middle of the night. It’s a children’s fairy tale, a collection of short stories. It’s the novel, the screenplay, the memoir you have yet to write. It’s quietly bubbling inside you, comes to you in your dreams, while driving or showering or running.
Yet you can’t quite bring yourself to tug at the dangling thread, haven’t actually uncapped the pen, ventured into the territory of that blank journal.
You’re an interior designer, an accountant, a teacher, a therapist, an executive. You’re an expat, an immigrant, a former politician. A mother, a homemaker, a housewife, a stay- at-home dad. You are many things to many people, have lived many lives but you aren’t a “writer.” You haven’t been trained or schooled or taught so you set aside your story; brush it off your shoulder, dismiss it down the drain of your shower, sigh it away in rush hour traffic.
I want to tell you a secret or two. The first one is this: Your story is you. It’s as much a part of you as your heart, your liver, your lungs — anything else you hold inside your body. I am of the firm belief that just like dogs choose their owners, stories choose their authors. If you’ve been struck by the muse; if your imagination often takes you into unlikely, dramatic scenarios while simply putting on your mascara or brushing your teeth, this is your sign: you are being called. Your story has chosen you as its teller.
The second secret is this: every single writer I know (myself included), struggles with The Inner Fraud. Even formally trained writers, with initials attached to their name, writers with books out in the world. We all have that internal voice inside us saying we aren’t capable. That we don’t have any business even trying. But this is part of what it means to be vulnerable and to create, we must make ourselves open and vulnerable. That nasty little voice? It’s just a tiny part of the ego, the id. It’s fear and fear is there to protect us. But it can also be overcome and potentially even utilized.
My beloved child, every time you judge yourself you break your own heart. –Swami Kripalu
The truth is, you don’t have to have studied the craft of writing to tell a story. Storytelling is an ancient art form, around before writing was ever even invented. It’s in our genes. You do it on a daily basis, whether you realize it or not.
If you have a story to tell, you can trust there’s an audience ready, willing and in need of hearing it. You hold your own innate genius. Dismiss it and maybe your story goes away temporarily but deep down it’s still there, relentless in its asking to be brought forth. Like a faithful friend, a loyal companion, it floats back to you. Gently asking, patiently waiting.
You are not alone. Write to me. Tell me about the voice that sparkles quietly inside you. Take this first brave step. I’ll help with the next.
Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone. — Amy Tan
Or Maybe This Is You?
You were injured somewhere in your body, you aren’t sure how, aren’t sure if you or someone else is responsible for that aching. You feel you are floating somewhere just beyond reach, looking for ways to connect, to be born new.
You’re full of questions. A curious gypsy soul, I see so much of myself in you. In your tireless quest for more, your way of rejecting what you’re supposed to do, your embracing of what’s new and different and vastly out of your comfort zone. Your name ends in “y” which is no coincidence, seeing as how that’s the question you ask most. You worry you won’t find your way. That your scabs won’t heal over into full blown the beautiful scars you’ll one day wear proudly. You want so badly confident in your ability to make a difference in someone’s life. You need someone to see you. To point you out to yourself in this crazy, massive crowd. To see the You you are now and the You you’ll become. You need someone to tell you there’s nothing wrong with unconventional, everything right about weird.
I saw you when you felt your most alive in India, drenched in paint at that festival you’d planned your trip around. I saw you when you were at a low, drinking bottles of red wine every night in your tiny little white-walled bedroom in South America. English teacher by day, drunk by night, you were worried you’d never find someone to love forever, terrified that despite all you know you really know nothing, confused and almost convincing yourself to believe that one who wanders is lost. I saw you when you were afraid to come home to yourself, to come into your knowing that all this traveling and doing and seeing and tasting and loving and losing and leaving is actually The Path, your path. The one that makes you feel alive and the one that has lended your writing, the way it has lended your life its spark. I know the blue prints of the life you want to build for yourself. How you so desperately want to hold onto and keep living it, without compromising all that bigness. I believe the only thing holding you back, the only thing stopping you from being You is you. All you need is a plan, an indestructible raft you can build for yourself to help buoy you along. You need permission to be the outrageous and wild one you are becoming – all flaws, urges, desires, dreams. I want to help you give that to yourself. All of it and more.
Write to me. Let’s conjure a plan, a raft. Write the way you want to live and live the way you want to write.
A word is dead
When it is said,
I say it just begins
to live that day.
– Emily Dickinson